The off-ice rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks ratcheted up another notch yesterday courtesy of comments from general managers on both sides.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said his franchise would again talk to the NHL about an incident involving a Maple Leafs executive making comments about Vancouver players.
"We'll talk to [the league]about it and see what their position is but this, in my mind, is another example of the Toronto Maple Leafs trying to upset our team," Gillis said from Calgary, where the Canucks begin their season with a game against the Flames.
Vancouver's latest complaint stems from a video on the Maple Leafs website, entitled Behind the Draft, where general manager Brian Burke discusses the possibility of trading up into the top five slots.
"Vancouver has made a major effort to get the second pick out of Tampa Bay," Burke tells his scouts at a pre-draft meeting. "We heard they offered - again, this is all second-hand, so we're not sure - [Alex]Burrows, [Kevin] Bieksa and their own pick. Those are two pretty good players."
Gillis called the rumour false and said that common sense should have told Burke that it wasn't true.
"The idea that a team that is trying to win would trade two good players and a first round pick to get a first round pick is preposterous," Gillis said. "I would've thought that a GM with Brian's experience would realize that."
Gillis said the Canucks never made an offer for the second selection because the Lightning coveted Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman and were not going to trade the pick if he was available.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault admitted that some players can be disturbed by hearing their names in trade rumours, but that they must learn to deal with such distractions.
The latest Canucks-Leafs spat comes on the heels of tampering charges filed by the Canucks against Toronto head coach Ron Wilson this summer.
During a radio interview, Wilson expressed interest in signing the Sedin twins before July 1, or before they became unrestricted free agents, which is a violation of the NHL's rules against tampering.
The teams play each other on Oct. 24 at General Motors Place.