Brad Treliving, Column, News and Rumors, Rich Clune, Rodion Amirov, Stephane Robidas, Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Treliving, Amirov, Clune & Robidas Island

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at a number of topics emerging from the organization. First, I’ll review new general manager (GM) Brad Treliving’s tenure after two months. While he still has a couple of important irons in the fire – negotiating contract extensions with Auston Matthews and William Nylander – he’s made a number of changes to the roster that will be notable when the regular season unfolds.

Second, in a couple of good news stories, I’ll share an update about Russian prospect Rodion Amirov’s battle with a brain tumor that put his NHL dreams on hold. Right now, Amirov is undergoing treatment with support from both his Russian hockey club Salavat Yulaev Ufa, and the Maple Leafs. There is some hope, perhaps unrealistic, that he could play in North America sometime during the 2023-24 season.


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The second good-news story is that the Maple Leafs (former and current players) celebrated their fourth wedding of the summer. Former Toronto Marlies’ captain Rich Clune tied the knot on Saturday. 

Related: Canadiens’ Andrei Markov – Bidding Farewell to The General

Finally, the name Robidas Island has popped up in relation to Matt Murray’s recent transfer to the LTIR (long-term injury reserve). I’ll share where exactly Robidas Island is in relationship to Maple Leafs history.

Item One: A Two-Month Review of Brad Treliving’s Tenure as GM

Today, in The Leafs Nation, writer Nick Alberga reviewed Brad Treliving’s two-month tenure as GM. While there are still important things to do, Alberga thinks Treliving has landed on his feet after his re-organization of the roster. 

When he was named to the post on May 31, there was massive turmoil. After former GM Kyle Dubas made Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan blink during a public media scrum, he was quickly shown the door. Treliving was hired to replace him less than two weeks later. 

Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs
Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas (The Hockey Writers)

Treliving quickly reshaped the roster he inherited from Dubas. While the team’s offensive core remains, Treliving only re-signed one of the team’s six free agents (David Kampf). He then leveraged the money saved to bring in new players. Ryan Reaves was signed to a three-year contract, and Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi, John Klingberg, and Dylan Gambrell were all signed to one-year deals.

Treliving took a strong stance with goalie Ilya Samsonov, and the arbitrator ruled slightly in his favor. Although he might not have been the protagonist in this story, a page from former Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello’s playbook was used to remove goalie Matt Murray’s contract from the salary cap without giving up assets in a trade.

Related: Ex-Maple Leafs’ Defenseman Jake Gardiner: Where Is He Now?

While Sheldon Keefe continues to be the team’s head coach, he’s now joined by former NHL head coach Guy Boucher and coach Mike Van Ryn (to replace Spencer Carbery, who is now the Washington Capitals’ new head coach). As well, Treliving brought in Shane Doan, a Phoenix Coyotes legend, to work within the organization. 

Treliving still has to negotiate contract extensions with Matthews and Nylander before they become unrestricted free agents (UFAs) next summer. How he settles these deals will impact the assessment of his work. 

Morgan Rielly William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly and William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate an overtime goal during Game 3 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Also, the real test of his performance will only happen during the postseason. If the team can scamper through a long run during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, things look good for Treliving. Regardless, no one can accuse him of sitting on his hands.

Item Two: Good News for Rodion Amirov

About a year and a half ago, Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then, he’s been receiving treatments in both Germany and Russia. This past week, there was an optimistic update from his KHL club Salavat Yulaev’s general director, Rinat Bashirov. Amirov is experiencing a “positive trend” in his recovery. 

Related: Maple Leafs Good News Story of the Year: Rodion Amirov

Although no specific timeline for his return to the ice has been given, the report offers hope for the youngster. Playing professional hockey again might require time, but there’s a chance he might be able to return during the 2023-24 season. 

Rodion Amirov
03.04.21. Parimatch JHL Championship 2020-2021. Playoffs. JHC Dynamo (Moscow) – Tolpar (Ufa). @ Rodion Amirov (Photo credit: photo.khl.ru)

Amirov will continue his treatment with the support of his KHL team and remains under contract with the Maple Leafs. 

Item Three: Rich Clune Also Gets Married

In the fourth wedding of the summer that featured a current or former Maple Leaf, Rich Clune married his fiancée, Isabel Unger, in Toronto on Saturday. Clune is a former captain of the American Hockey League’s (AHLs) Toronto Marlies and is the development coach with the Maple Leafs. 

Clune spent seven seasons in the organization, playing 19 NHL games and 276 AHL games with the Marlies. He also helped lead the Marlies to their Calder Cup win in 2018. Congratulations to Rich and Isabel. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

Where exactly is Robidas Island? After Matt Murray was recently placed on LTIR, the phrase traveling to Robidas Island has popped up over and over again. It was a new phrase to me, and I had to do some research to find out what it meant. 

Related: Maple Leafs’ Forgotten Ones: Dion Phaneuf

In an article written almost seven years ago, Eduardo Razo, of Editor in Leafs, wrote about “Robidas Island.” Depending upon what side of the action you’re on, it’s either a whimsical or a derogatory term used by Maple Leafs fans to refer to a “destination” where players placed on injured reserve (IR) effectively end their season. 

The phrase originated from when Lamoriello placed defenseman Stephane Robidas on IR, removing him from the team because of a “knee injury.” As the team assumed a rebuilding phase, more players, including James Van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul, traveled to Robidas Island, which meant they did not rush back from injuries. It was a way for the team to ensure it had the highest draft pick odds. 

James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs
Former Maple Leafs’ James Van Riemsdyk (JVR)
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

A number of the team’s “unwanted players” (Razo mentioned Alex Stalock and Jared Cowen) were also sent to the island, and at the time of the article, Lupul had taken up permanent residency there, because of the team’s roster dynamics. 

A trip to Robidas Island became a (sort of) humorous running gag. However, it held significance for players who were sent there, because they rarely returned to the team’s lineup. We’ll see what happens with Murray. I can’t believe his story is over.

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