Has Brian Burke Been A Bust?

William Houston certainly seems to think so, as evident in his latest blog:

“The Kessel trade appears to have been a mistake. The free agents Burke signed over the summer haven’t panned out, although the goalie Jonas Gustavsson may develop. Burke tried to make the team tougher, but hasn’t.”

The answer it appears to be in the time ahead. I don’t think any of the moves made by Burke were made with a short term outlook. Having said that, this is a results oriented business and the proof is in the pudding. So While Ron Wilson and Brian Burke can say whatever they want in their defence, the only thing that really matters is the results.

Houston does point out where the various members of our MSM stand on the Toronto Maple Leafs:

“Armed with statistics, Dreger reported that Wilson has failed miserably with the PK, much more than Maurice. Wilson’s success rate of 69.7 per cent is not only worst in the league, but the lowest for any NHL team in 27 seasons (1982-83 Los Angeles Kings).

“The penalty kill is no good and has not been good under Wilson,” Dreger said.

Bill Watters, a regular on Leafs Lunch, described the penalty kill as “passive” and the Leaf players, generally, as soft.

“I challenge you to name to me a team in the NHL that plays with less balls,” he said.

“No, I can’t find it,” said Dreger.

“That’s it,” Watters said. “There’s no other way to describe it. The team that showed up at Philadelphia had one thing in mind: Let’s get out of there without getting hurt.”

Let’s get this straight, there was no finer executive in Toronto Maple Leafs history than Bill Watters- Just ask him. To say that Watters has a bias is like saying that my knee surgery kind of hurt. Watters will never have anything good to say about the Leafs unless he has had 16 or 17 pops in him. He does like to kiss some Maple Leaf A$$ when one of them is on his show though.

Dreger, an insider doesn’t ever really express his opinion, in fact no one really cares what he thinks, he is supposed to be an insider, the guy with the scoop.

“When a caller pronounced Burke a failure on “every count, period,” Watters replied, “You said it well. Brian Burke’s record to date is nothing short of abysmal. I recommended this guy for the job, and I think there’s more good in him than there is bad. So far, we haven’t seen much good, but I think he deserves another kick at the can.”

But would Watters dare say to Burke to his face or ear that in Watters’ mind Burke’s record is nothing short of abysmal??? Hell no…

“At the Toronto Star, Damien Cox is a Burke supporter. The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts has returned to lecturing the fans about showing more patience. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun raised a few questions this week about Burke’s team. He concluded his piece with, “The seven players Burke added to the Leafs since last season represent nothing more than a beginning. This remains a roster crying for change. Too many of the incumbents are just good enough to get you beat. Truculence is more about the future than the present.”

In fairness to Simmons and I guess Burke, isn’t that what Burke has said from the beginning? This is going to be a long process, it will take time, it won’t be a quick fix….. if fans have been asked and are willing to be patient so too shouldn’t the press? furthermore, all of the above clamored for the Maple Leafs to hire Burke, how now could they dump on their suggested savior?

For my two cents, there is only one thing that Burke has to really hope doesn’t happen, and that is that his team finishes in a worse place than last year. It would be very hard to explain how the changes he made were the right ones when the results were worse then they were last year. Adding 7 players, making the moves he has made should result in a some degree of improvement. If they retreat then Burke and Wilson should have some explaining to to do.

Until then I am happy to reserve judgment.



About the Author
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
January 8, 2010 10:50 pm

I know the media needs something to write about / say on the air but….they really lose their credibility as professional sports media when they take the approach they have re: Burke at this stage in his mandate…ITS HIS FIRST SEASON!!! Talk about his demise in 2-3 years from now…

…..Really pathetic.


PS: Wilson, now that’s a different story….still not a fan.

January 9, 2010 6:28 am

I agree with LT.

Give Burke at least two years before we give up on him. Seven changes may seem like a lot, but it is only the beginning. If, and hopefully when, this team has been gutted AND we still suck then we can start to critisise Burke.

It doesn’t make it any easier to watch this team though.

Al from Burlington
Al from Burlington
January 9, 2010 10:35 am

Agree with LT also…Wilson and his staff are the ones that should be under the gun. This tema is just not ready to play, no emotion, no structure, no discipline. That is what coaches are supposed to provide at this level.

January 9, 2010 12:36 pm

Way too early to judge Burke. Give him this year and next, at least. Let’s see what happens during this off seasons etc.

As for Wilson…I like him, I like his track record, but I’m not sure he’s the guy for this team. At least right now. He does seem to finally have instilled some sort of work ethic – something that the Leafs have been missing for a long time – but he’s got a ways to go in that area still.

And for a defensive minded coach’s team to have a PK as terrible as ours is..I just don’t know. I think it’s partially a personnel issue in terms of not having the right horses for the job, but I would expect to see things going better than they are right now on the defensive side of things.

It’s impossible to replace the whole team, but I think that’s part of the issue. There still seems to be a legacy of…a lack of hunger on this team. And maybe the few hold overs from the past are the reason. Stajan, Kaberle, Poni, White, Blake…maybe it’s time to just take anyone who’s been here for longer than a year and move ’em.

January 9, 2010 7:32 pm

Is Brain Burke a bust? It’s sure looking that way!

Guys, BB was introduced as GM on Nov 28, 2008 so this is actually his second season in charge of the team. His taking over the TML’s was one of the worst kept secrets in sports ’til it official happened, and with his experience he should have known from day one what he intended to do. For most the guys he’s added haven’t made a big difference to improving the team or their position in the league standings. He needed to clear out the deadwood that was on this team and start from scratch from the get go. But he didn’t. His players & his coach sure don’t seem to be on the same page.

From my point of view he’s got his work cut out for himself. He’s now into year 2 of his 6 year contract. If this keeps up, some/somebody will call for his head way before the end of that contract.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x