The Calgary Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs have a long history of blockbuster deals and intertwined relationships, and Saturday that trend continued with the Flames acquisition of centre Joe Colborne from the Leafs.
This relationship really built when former Flames GM Cliff Fletcher took over as the GM of the Maple Leafs in 1991, and didn’t waste much time in reaching back to his former club and pulling off a blockbuster 10 player deal with the Flames. In what would go down as one of the great fleecings in NHL history, the Leafs got Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville for Gary Leeman, Alexander Godynyuk, Craig Berube, Jeff Reese and Michel Petit. Gilmour went on to become a superstar in Toronto, while Leeman, who was the centrepiece going the other way and a former 50 goal scorer, fizzled. Leeman played just 59 games in Calgary and then was dealt to Montreal. He scored just 22 goals in parts of 4 NHL seasons after the trade from Toronto.
After bouncing around in Tampa and Phoenix, he returned to Toronto after the failed John Ferguson Jr. experience and held down the fort until the Leafs could secure Brian Burke. Burke’s second major deal, after the infamous Phil Kessel trade, was again a Leaf’s fleecing of the Flames. Burke acquired Dion Phaneuf (along with Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom) for a package of mediocre players including Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan. Phaneuf remains in Toronto and is the captain, while only Stajan remains in Calgary from that deal.
Now that Burke is essentially running things in Calgary and his former assistant in Toronto (and Vancouver) is running things for the Blue and White, expect more deals between the two franchises. Yes, Jay Feaster is still the GM of the Flames, but lets face it, Burke is the man running things. This trading relationship has been one-sided in the past, but with Burke at the helm I don’t think the one-sidedness will continue. In fact, the tables just might get turned.
Joe Colborne for a 4th round pick is by no means a blockbuster, but it could be just the tip of the iceberg.