A frosty Monday morning folks. It’s a blustery -15C here in Toronto. The only place it may be colder is on Brian Burke‘s cellphone. There are a numerous theories out there this am as to what is happening and what is going to happen. In essence they all boil down to 2:
Burke is playing rope-a-dope: Set expectations low and over deliver
There is no real interest in the Maple Leaf players and therefore Burke’s hands are tied
Take a look at the Boston based Tomas Kaberle rumour this am. The rumour was Kaberle for 1st, a 3rd and a prospect. Burke quickly “pissed” all over it. Why would he do that? Of course there could be because there is no truth to it and Burke is a straight shooter. Burke, said that he hasn’t talked to Boston about Kaberle. Now, let’s take a look at that comment too. Why would he make that comment, besides the fact that it is truthful? Isn’t it in Burke’s best interest to at least give the impression that the wheels are in motion? With the Kaberle rumour, Burke not only shot down the specific rumour but shot down any talks involving the Leafs and Bruins as they relate to Kaberle. If you are Burke and you are hopping to get your socks knocked off woudln’t it be in your best interest to have as many teams think that you are talking about Kaberle as possible? Isn’t that how the game is played? Let me throw this out there for a second. I believe, (I, not Eye) that in many a hockey markets, owners react to news they read in the press. I am convinced of it. The owner of team A reads that the Bruins have offered x for Tomas Kaberle, whom he has heard that his team may like and therefore reacts. He calls or goest to visit his GM. In other words, I believe that the reason that stories get scooped in the media is that the teams use the media as vehicles to help them get info and get shit done. In some markets the press (what’s left of them) can make or break an executive’s career. I would say that the press killed JFJ here in Toronto but I think it’s safe to say he did it himself. I think there is tremendous pressure on a GM from owners and I am positive that owners react to what they read or hear in the press. I think that GM’s react to that pressure, or are forced to.
Which brings us back to Burke. From the beginning of training camp we have been told several, honest, not so flattering things about our Maple Leafs. Everything from Nik Antropov being the only top forward on the team, to the team being devoid of any real talent. We have also been told to be patient, that this could take some time. We are all fine with this. We have recognized that this season is little more then a necessary evil, we are doing little but hoping that the calendar would move a little faster then it is, without any real care for current results. There are 3 specific days or times of the year that are actually important to us. They are milestones in the development of our team. They are, the draft, the opening of the free agent period and the deadline. For Maple Leaf fans that is it. That’s all we got. so people can or should understand the pent up energy as one of these days approaches. Burke, is strong enough not to really care about that. He has the spine to do whatever he thinks is in the best interest of the team that employs him. However, like Cliff before him, he does have an ego. Matt Millen, after will be forever remembered as the GM which built the first and only to date, NFL team to not win a single game in an entire season. This is now Burke’s team. It has been for a few months. This is shot to make his first imprint on it. Trading a pick for Brady May was one move. The next couple of days sets up the beginning of his legacy here. For now, all is quiet.
I will say it again. There isn’t a single guy on the roster I wouldn’t move for the right package. For 50% of the guys, give me a draft pick back, any pick and I am good. The rest, it would be nice to get an earlier draft pick for. It says here, that Burke’s inability to move players for picks, or use available cap space to his advantage will be detrimental to the franchise. Does it all have to happen now? No. Does it have to start? Yes. To hell with the rest of the season….