Leafs acquire Lumme

After butting heads with Dallas head coach Ken Hitchcock for most of the season, defenceman Jyrki Lumme will get a new start with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs acquired the veteran rearguard prior to Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in return for little-used Dave Manson.

"I'm excited," Lumme said. "It felt great, the last few days have been kind of up and down and all over the place."

It is no secret that Leafs general manager/head coach Pat Quinn has remained fond of Lumme since their days with the Vancouver Canucks.

Lumme played for Quinn from 1991-96.

"He was one of the cornerstone reasons that we advanced years ago," Quinn said.

So when the Stars placed Lumme on waivers on Monday and he cleared them on Wednesday, Quinn moved quickly to bolster his defensive corps.

"Once Lumme cleared waivers, that opened the floodgates," said Dallas general manager Bob Gainey.

Quinn didn't have to give up much for Lumme, either.

Manson, a hard-nosed defensive defenceman, played in only 13 of Toronto's 21 games this season and was, therefore, deemed expendable.

The 34-year-old native of Prince Albert, Sask., had only one assist.

Since entering the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1986-87, Manson has 102 goals and 2, 769 penalty minutes in 1,069 career games.

He returns to the Stars, who he helped lead to the 2000 Stanley Cup final.

Negotiations are underway to re-work Manson's contract with the Leafs.

He is being paid $900,000 US this season.

The only downside to acquiring Lumme was his hefty salary of $3.75 million US. However, $1 million of that was in a signing bonus that was paid by Lumme's old team, the Phoenix Coyotes. He has a player option at $2.75 million for next season, but $700,000 of that was to be paid by the Coyotes. In the event of a trade, though, the Coyotes are off the hook for that amount.

The Leafs were only interested in Lumme if he was prepared to restructure the remainder of his contract so that the Leafs wouldn't be paying him any more than $1 million to $1.5 million per year.

The 35-year-old defenceman was acquired by the Stars from the Phoenix Coyotes in the hopes that he would become one of the team's top defenceman.

However, Lumme failed to live up to expectations and fought openly with coach Hitchcock.

"I didn't really fit into the team," said Lumme. "I didn't really have a role."

Lumme, who earned a silver medal (1988) and a bronze (1998) with the Finnish Olympic team, has one assist in 15 games with Dallas.

Earlier this season, he left the team to be with his family, who was afraid to fly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in his native Finland.

When Lumme's performance failed to improve upon his return, Dallas decided to place him on waivers.