Maple Leafs Season All But Over


“But the deadliest thing is when a fan votes [with] their feet and they don’t come.”

“Are they entitled to do it?” Burke said, “Sure, they are. And I honestly don’t believe it was a lot of them. It doesn’t take many fans booing to be heard so I think we’re talking about a very small number, but my opinion is that it’s disgraceful to boo Dion Phaneuf for everything he has done for this franchise, on and off the ice, in a very short period of time.”

Well, here we are. The end of the 2011-2012 season is upon us and it’s not looking pretty.

Maple Leaf fans probably haven’t been this depressed since those fun John Ferguson Jr. years.

I think it’s fair to say that the Burke era promised hope and as we sit today, many a fans are feeling hopeless once again.

David Shoalts has an excellent account of where the Leafs stand today in the Globe and Mail.

““You have two choices: you can trust your general manager or you can fire your general manager,” the insider said. “At the end of the day, you can criticize [MLSE] for not hiring the right GM. But the decisions are made by the general manager. They really are. Brian Burke is running the show.”

And Burke, who declined a request for comment, has more autonomy in running his team than all but a few of his fellow GMs. Glen Sather of the New York Rangers and Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils are the only others whose power is absolute.”

Bill Watters always blamed ownership for meddling. It’s clear that under Burke, it doesn’t happen. Burke himself has stated that this is his team.

The question I think fans are asking is did the meddling really screw things up at all? The result doesn’t seem to be any different does it?

“Contractually, Ferguson says, he only had to clear a coaching change with the board of directors. But as a 36-year-old rookie GM in 2003, the reality was that then-president Richard Peddie and the board had much more control over Ferguson than they do over Burke.

“I don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining but it was not the optimum way,” Ferguson said of his tenure.

Even though Ferguson was technically on his own, there were times the corporate oversight got in the way. Such as at the trade deadline one year when he was required to make a presentation to the board at noon on deadline day, three hours before the 3 p.m. deadline.”

It’s good thing they got out of his way when he made that awesome deal with the Bruins!

James Mirtle has a good story on the Buds too:

“By the start of the third, the Air Canada Centre was half empty, with fans finally starting to talk with their feet – even if it was deemed yet another sell out by the bean counters.”

Sounds like they are starting to vote with their feet doesn’t it.

“The bad is that general manager Brian Burke’s fourth season at the helm will end with his team once again in the league basement and with gaping holes on the roster.

They need a goaltender, they need a No. 1 centre and, given their recent showing, they need a heart transplant.”

Not much has changed since last season has it?

So yesterday I asked about the Blue Jays prospects, today Shi Davidi has an interesting piece on Travis Snyder. Is it time for the Jays to move on?

Happy Wednesday!


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March 28, 2012 5:41 am

What’s going to be interesting to me in the next CBA is how hard the rich teams lobby to maintain flexibility in the cap to be able to fix mistakes and improve the team. For example, being able to bury contracts in the minors.
Now, it could be that Bell and Rogers are only interested in the bottom line of MLSE, but they would have to consider the effect of not being able to improve the team on the revenue driven from other platforms.
In addition, its never 100% about dollars and cents… at that level of income its more about ego and power. Think these guys eg. Bell and Rogers will like to be associated constantly with such a loser?

March 28, 2012 8:25 am

“But the deadliest thing is when a fan votes [with] their feet and they don’t come.”

In my opinion this is the really interesting story behind this year’s debacle. The ACC may already be sold out for this year but fans can turn the back in other ways.

It is purely anecdotal, but within our circle the Leafs/Hockey has slipped to third behind Football and Baseball. One who has been a life long buds fan to the point of texting updates even setting his schedule around broadcasts of Leaf games admitted this week that he had stopped watching a few weeks ago.

It reminds me of when Harley Davidson was owned by AMF and how they almost ruined the brand with the lack of quality in comparison to competitors. If the experience within my circle is the broader trend what is the impact on:
* Marketing merchandise as kids turn to other teams who can win;
* Broadcast ratings as the fan base turns off or switches to other sports.

Shoalts starts down this road a bit but I would like to see someone who has a business mind within the press pick this up. Investigate the impact of sustained failure on the business of MLSE and the broadcasters who carry their product. I have to believe there is an erosion of important ancillary revenue streams though getting at the impact may be very difficult.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 28, 2012 8:30 am

Damien Cox has sipped the Burke KOOL-AID, the hockey talent on this roster is next to nill. I just hope the push back from the rest of the MSM is a lot more intense than what Cox is serving up. BOB on PTS has been vocal on Burkes firing, that should be the starting point going forward. Snyder is a career minor leaguer, AA will move him.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 28, 2012 8:48 am

i don’t usually read Cox but since the headline for his article was suspiciously optimistic i gave it a click:

“See, those who decry the absence of progress as measured by the standings disregard the young players and prospects unable right now to contribute to the degree they may one day be able to. “

What a useless statement. You can say the same thing about every other team in the NHL. The whole article is a journalistic mess that contorts itself to explain why the Burke era might just be a huge success.

I can see why people accuse Cox of a Burke minion … that was embarrassing to read.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 28, 2012 8:54 am

unrelated: just listened to a series of segments from Cybulski’s show that featured Naylor, Simmons, Mackowitz, and Arthur. That show would be so strong if they just got rid of Cybulski and replaced him with Naylor as host. Cballs is such a weak link, while the rest of that crew is a real pleasure to listen to.

I’m curious to see what the first major move will be at TSN RADIO (leaving aside the Dan Patrick shuffle … we all suspected that was coming).

March 28, 2012 8:55 am

As a tradition Leafs fans keep the golf courses in business usually starting in late March – early April.

Best of luck to Leafs Nation with Brian Burke running the team.

The 2 headed corporate monster taking over MLSE really needs to dump the god awful Greg Millen Paul Hendrick Dan Dunleavy & Jim Ralph and insist CBC axes the equally awful Jim Hughson & Craig Simpson. Joe Blowhard Bowen needs to be told to tune his big mouth down several levels or they can get rid of his annoying homer ass as well. Just terrible homer broadcasting on the Leafs games clean house already.

Contrast the above Leaf media tools to the Blue Jays Jamie Campbell, Greg Zaun, Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler all of whom are not annoying over the top in your face homers and are a treat to listen to – most of the time.

March 28, 2012 8:58 am

You people know nothing. Burkie is a genius. After all how do you explain the way he tricked Leaf fans into thinking they were going to make the playoffs only to turn things around in the opposite direction and tank the remaining 30 games of the season – thus ensuring that lottery pick they so desperately need?

Can’t you idiots see that? I am the only one smart enough to see Burkie’s brilliance? You see, I call him “Burkie” because we’re tight and I always seem to agree with him – funny how that happens.

Anyways (sic), time to look forward to next year. Burkie is going to be getting us the cup.

Damien Cox
Official Member of the MSM and Brian Burkie Fan Club

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 28, 2012 9:50 am

@ Roger-that was great made me laugh, MIB and Becks agree 100%, would love to hear Zaun’s take on the leafs, he is not shy with his comments.

Lee (Oakville)
March 28, 2012 10:12 am

Damien Cox’s apologia for Brain Burke is the worst piece of “journalism” I have read in a truly long time. For those that wonder why the MSM is scorned and mistrusted in many circles, just read this column and everything will become crystal clear.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
March 28, 2012 10:13 am

“…but my opinion is that it’s disgraceful to boo Dion Phaneuf for everything he has done for this franchise, on and off the ice, in a very short period of time.”

Burke said that recently? All things considered, he should just stop talking.

He chose not to contribute to Shoalts piece, but somehow these words escape?

I have recently defended Burke, but really, he should just stop talking…

March 28, 2012 11:37 am

I’ve heard Naylor’s show a couple times on the weekend and it is a nice pleasant straightforward show, although I did hear a silly bit last week based on Back to the Future.

March 28, 2012 2:53 pm

Cox is such a hypocrite. While he’ll staunchly defend his pal Burkie, he forgets how he absolutely tore into Ferguson during his time in charge. Well, guess what? Their records are very similar. While you could argue (perhaps) that there are a couple more prospects now than before, the Leaf roster is an expensive mess. In fact, you could argue that Ferguson’s job was tougher because he was more or less a puppet who had to run everything past a board (Peddie). Burkie doesn’t have that excuse.

Cox knows Burke is going nowhere, and so he doesn’t want to burn bridges just yet. Like the coward he is, he’ll wait until Burke’s tenure is almost over before he calls for his head. End of next season perhaps?

March 28, 2012 3:25 pm


Great points about Cox and his pal Burke. I agree also once Burke is gone, he won’t be defending him at this rate.

Cox is a lightweight sports journalist who needs Burke to like him and won’t ruin that relationship.

March 28, 2012 4:22 pm

After reading Cox’s article I’m confident the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup for the next few years. This is a dynasty in the making. Look at all the talent they have and that Burkie is such a genious too. I bet Damien had drool coming out of his mouth writing that great piece of journalism.

Does anyone care what Phaneuf does off the ice?

March 28, 2012 4:35 pm

Cox last weekend – trade Kessel!!

this week – Stay the course!!!

im confused..

March 28, 2012 4:59 pm

World: The sky is blue
Cox: No, it’s red, you idiots

World: the sun sets in the west
Cox: it sets in the east, you idiots

World: Everest is the highest mountain
Cox: No, it’s K2, you idiots

Cox: Are people noticing me?

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