Toronto Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke was in studio with Greg Brady for an hour today. The audio is up on 640’s site site. It’s great listening material (really makes one long for JFJ). Burke is a very smart cat, who knows his audience, has good rapport with his hosts and has a great sense of humour. Unlike others who have come before him of late, he is honest, and says what is on his mind. None of this anything new, it just refreshing to hear in these parts. Brian Burke is the anti-J.P. Ricciardi.He has none of that I am smarter then all of you droll that comes from J.P.’s mouth every time it is opened.
In any event, here is a rough version of what Mr. Burke had to say with thanks to LT who helped take some notes as I watched Lost late this evening/early morning.
The coaching staff is doing a great job. I can’t take credit for hiring Ron Wilson and I can’t take credit for drafting Luke Schenn; I wish I could. Wilson won’t get any votes for coach of the year, and it is too bad. GM’s don’t get to vote on coach of the year, only get to vote on goalie award( which we know nothing about). Brady suggested that if the Leafs aren’t unhappy about where they are going to draft why should the public be unhappy, Burke said that they haven’t had the discussion about where we are going to draft. Still want to beat as many teams as possible even when you are out of the hunt. That is their job. He then discussed the trade deadline. Prices for rentals has gone done in new cap era. We were willing to take cap space back. Amazed we couldn’t add players with salary and term. There were very few sellers at the deadline. The prices we were offered never improved, we asked for a first but always could have dropped the prices. The Leafs were only offered other teams big mistakes. Burke said that the 2010-11 season concerns us with the cap going down. Brady asked Burke if he agreed with Richie Rich’s (without naming him) assertion that the leafs are in cap trouble in 2010-11. Burke said he thinks we are fine in 2010-2011 as we are. Have to be careful in what we do to stay fine. Oddly, Burke said that he was surprised by what happened in Anaheim. Ownership told Burke that we were going to be there all year. Then when he was in Toronto he got a call that they changed they there minds, which they are entitled to do. Burke added that he wants to kick Anaheim’s asses till their noses bleed every time they play them, but wishes them well in all other games.
In the second segment, Burke explained that Martin Gerber didn’t get suspended for pushing the official as many are reporting. He got suspended for firing the puck at the official. The rule states that it is an automatic 3 game suspension for shooting the puck at an official even if you don’t hit the official. Burke also said that the goal shouldn’t have counted last night. The player looked like he was digging his car out of a snow drift in Ajax. He was clear to Not make this an indictment of the officials, they do a great job, but they do make mistakes and this was one of them. Burke said that Curtis Joseph to start on Friday. Justin Pogge has not earned more time in the NHL, his play has been fair, not bad but just fair. Burke wouldn’t guarantee that Poggee will see more time in NHL this season. He really hates this 4 time recall rule. He challenged Paul Kelly to change the rule, the NHLPA is the sole obstacle to changing this rule. He begged Brady to ask Paul Kelley what the opposition is to the rule. Burke went on that this is a rule that makes no sense. There is solid support at GM level to change it, but, the PA is the only opposition. Burke has never heard a good argument for the rule. Burke hates the shootout, but voted for it and I will again because the fans love it. No different then settling a tied NFL game by having a quarterback throw the ball through a tire. A shootout is that much of a gimmick. Every fan stands up for it, everyone loves it as a fan. Some people say Canadians don’t like shootouts and that is BS you couldn’t talk in our building last night during the shootout it was so loud. Brady asked Burke what he thought of the point system, and Burke did a great job turning it around on Brady. If nothing else listen to the end of 2nd segment. It was Burke at his best- I love when he says ok, so now it is time to take a break- PRICELESS.
The final segment Burke answers questions so it was harder to really write it as it sounded but here is out best effort:
Christopher Didomenico & Dale Mitchell:
– happy with both players progress
-He gets reports on both players, got to see Didomenico at world junior and he had a good tournament
– both guys have a chance to play for the Leafs
– they are not locks
– Didomenico….skillset says NHL but but he is a slender young man…needs to put on some weight which has been hard for him to do…not for a lack of diligence in the weight room…just some guys have trouble putting weight on
– cant talk about names but i can talk about my approach
– I have never “offer sheeted” a player
– Not the tactic that i am planning on employing at this point.
Draft Lottery: likes the existing system where you can’t move up many spots, likes it better than NBA system, doesn’t want to reward teams who perform better then those who bottom out, it’s not equitable.
Draft rounds…when asked about the number of rounds, he said “I’d like 26”
Brampton Batalian Player Matt Duchene…Cliff Fletecher seen at a game: Burke likes him, agrees with caller that he is Gilbert Perreault like
Any UFA’s you are interesting or wait till 2010: Can’t mention players…not UFA until July 1 (tampering)…we do have cash and cap space….but, what will the cap look like in 2010-2011?..cap lags economy…so, cap wont likely drop much (if any) for next season but…the following year…it could drop….tight rope we walk this summer…2010 we’ll no more about economic reality…The potential crop does look good for 2010, but some of those guys wont actually be available as their clubs will sign them…we’ll see.
Minor league teams
– Worried about the minor league teams in this economy? NHL relies on it…NFL for example, doesn’t need to have them…NCAA is where they get players….Burke owns part of a team in Chilowack, knows the situation…they may be better aligned to weather the storm at their price point then the NHL.
Mikhail Stefanovich: guys are high on him
Jimmy Hayes: good prospect, needs more time, happy with progress
Viktor Stahlberg: great year at Vermont, might be the best of the 3 right now
Mikhail Grabovsky: RFA, playing well, I give him credit….talks haven’t gone well…Jeff Jackson responsible for managing this one
US Olympic team: taking the best players, not taking kids to teach them for future years…build the team like i pick teams, top 6, bottom 6.
Dumb call re: draft eligibility, it’s too young but US law won’t allow it to be changed.
Good on Burke for sitting in with Brady for this hour. It was very good radio and once again restored some hope. Does it guarantee a Stanley Cup? Nope. Does it mean it will be fun to watch, absolutely!
Thanks again to LT.