The Brian Burke Rebuild Twitter Style


It’s funny how quickly things change. Last week, the silence in the Toronto Sports Media world was deafening. Now, with the Buds eliminated from another spring dance, the media has come to life. There are some who are calling for Burke to follow Ron Wilson out the door. There are a few who are preaching patience. David Shoalts had a great piece yesterday and followed it up with a less quality one today. Damien Cox wrote a piece today that sparked quite a debate on Twitter and one that I think solidifies the importance of Twitter in the life of an avid sports fan.

I know the comment that’s going to be coming so let’s get it out of the way, Cox last week suggest the Buds should consider trading Phil Kessel to optimize the value of that asset. Today he is preaching patience. Sorry folks, but in Damien’s defence I don’t think there’s a conflict there. No, I am not in the trade Kessel camp at all. However I can see how he thinks they should trade Kessel at the same time suggesting that Burke stay the course in the building process.

“There was this assumption, apparently, that when Brian Burke arrived three years and four months ago, not only would he make it happen, he would make it happen with dazzling speed and without making some pretty messy errors along the way.?

He would not only be the person who brought the Stanley Cup back, he would travel a smooth, straight, unbroken path. He would trip no land mines; there would be no moments of terrible regret and doubt.?

Apparently, that’s what some expected.”

Now, may I remind you of what Brian Burke has told the public on a couple of occasions:

“I’m not interested … in a five-year rebuild like some of these teams have done. Maybe because of my age, maybe just because I know it doesn’t have to be five years because it wasn’t in Anaheim.”

So, I took to twitter and posted the following:

” I like reading @DamoSpin columns. The reason people thought he’d do it faster is he said he would ”

Damien’s response was:

“I’d be interested to see the quote.”

So, I provided that same quote from above.

Damien’s response was:

” So where’s the guarantee and the promise? And given that we’re less than 3 1/2 yrs in, so what?”


“Can’t imagine anyone would seriously read that as a guarantee.”

Now, I don’t think Burke was making a guarantee when he made the statement. He didn’t look into the camera and say I will deliver this. He clearly was stating what his intention was.

My response to Burke was:

“it’s not a guarantee. However, he set the expectation.He could’ve said this will take years to rebuild and that’s what were doing”

So, if anyone is to blame for unrealistic expectations or the impatience of where Leaf fans are now, it’s Burke himself for setting the bar too high.

Damien’s response was:

“That’s certainly fair.”

Having achieved some common ground, I reiterated what I’ve said here and on twitter before.

“what I’d like to hear him (Burke) say is something like, it’s going to take longer than I thought and we are going to keep at it.”

Damien’s response was:

“Yup. Agreed.”

Now, that ended things for several hours. Until Michael Grange entered the conversation:

“just saw this, but Damo there is no way to spin the fact that Burke rejected a ‘traditional’ (slow, 5yr) rebuild.”

Which is accurate. That is exactly what Burke did on numerous occasions.

To which Damien’s response was:

“you say it’s a fact. I say that it’s opinion.”

I obviously disagree. There is no opinion in what Burke said publicly. What can be debated is whether Burke really had any choice in saying what he did. Could he really come out and say this is going to take at least 5 years? I don’t know the answer to that. I can think of several reasons why he wouldn’t. Most importantly, what kind of message does it send to the players that you are already giving up on the next 5 years; basically accepting losing.

No, I am not going to list tweets much longer, however Bruce Arthur then got into the action too:

“Well, except I asked him about two years ago why he tried to build fast, and he said he didn’t think he needed to.”

Then, Mike Brophy jumped into the action:

“in Ana he got Pronger, Niedermayer, so in Toronto all he needed was Chara and Weber”

Let’s just say that it was great to follow and makes for really interesting reading. Grange chimed in at 745pm and the banter ended at 9:17. It is exactly what Twitter is best for. It allows ordinary folks like us to interact with those who are paid to follow our teams. Tonight provided great entertainment and insight into what some of the best local media members think is going on with our hockey team. It’s one thing to watch or listen to that debate on radio or television. It’s another to witness it electronically and more important to be able to be part of the discussion. That’s cool. So to those who participated, from those of us who followed, thanks!

If anyone can tell me the easiest way to link to or capture all the tweets in the exchange I’d be happy to post them here.

Personally, I think there are a couple of things that are of interest here:

1. Burke set the bar, he told the world his plan, the reason people are upset with where things sit today in terms of the plan is that they were supposed to have already happened. He was interested in a long rebuild and it’s looking like that’s what we have. That’s on Burke.
2. The biggest question is what exactly does he have. Some argue he has valuable pieces where he inherited very little, others say that the cupboards remain empty. Are the Marlies a good AHL team only, or are they a team made up of some young future NHL players. By players I think we can agree that in order to count as future players they have to be of some significant quality. If they are all 4th liners or 6/7 defencemen, are they “really” prospects?
3. What is he willing to say or admit to at his end of season press conference. People need hope. Right now leaf fans feel there is no plan, no hope. He has to try to re-establish that hope.

It will be very interesting to watch what happens over the next couple of weeks.

If you don’t listen to sports radio, you may have forgotten Stephen Brunt. He has an excellent column on the state of the Leafs on First he discusses ownership:

“It’s not that they don’t care. They care at least as much as all of those long-suffering fans, and have way more on the line.It’s just that they’ve been incompetent.”

Then he tackles Burke:

“It is no small irony that Burke’s biggest lapses in judgment have come in those moments when he was thinking not like a soul-less suit, not like a bean counter, but like one of the team’s desperate supporters.
Consider the Phil Kessel deal, the signature moment of his Maple Leafs’ tenure, a dice roll born of impatience, the need to fast-forward the rebuilding process. Ask a Leafs fan in that moment if they’d be willing to take a similar risk to speed up deliverance, and most of them would have said yes.”

Then on firing Wilson:

“But aside from enacting vengeance, you make the move then in the belief that it might give the team an emotional kick-start and get it into the playoffs. It didn’t — not by a long shot — and now you’re left with a roster and a coach that seem stylistically incompatible, operating in a system in which it’s darned near impossible to turn the roster over quickly and start all over again.”

and back to ownership:

“Plus, winning, even for rich guys who can only get richer, is a whole lot more fun than losing, and so they — and you, the Leafs’ suffering flock — all dream the same dream.”

It’s great perspective. It’s too bad we don’t get more Brunt isn’t it?

Did you see the Feschuk piece on Tie Domi?:

“I played in every one of those playoff games like it was my last,” Domi said, pounding his chest with a big fist for emphasis. “I just don’t see that every shift from this team. I don’t see every guy playing hard every shift. They’ve got to start getting accountability in the room.”

So, I am thinking Domi won’t be checking into the Leafs locker room anytime soon. Oh well, he can hob knob with Mario right?


photo available here

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March 29, 2012 2:56 am

[…] The Brian Burke Rebuild Twitter Style There are some who are calling for Burke to follow Ron Wilson out the door. There are a few who are preaching patience. David Shoalts had a great piece yesterday and followed it up with a less quality one today. Damien Cox wrote a piece today that sparked quite a debate on Twitter and one that I think solidifies the importance of Twitter in the life of an avid sports fan. […]

itchy butt
itchy butt
March 29, 2012 5:29 am

Thanks you helping me realize why I think Damien Cox is one of the biggest knobs in Toronto Sports Media.

This team’s record is indefensible. I don’t care how many funny zingers “Burkie” gives in a press conference…..this team is horrid with no hope in sight.

Next year they will come flying out of the gate 6 and 1, Carl Hanstke will give one of his 680 News man on the street interviews with a Leafs fan who will go “WHOOOOOOOOO…STANLEY CUP BABY WHOOOOOO”, and 3/4 of the way thru the season they will be sucking the sweat from a monkey’s ass.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 29, 2012 7:41 am

thanks for the Twitter recap. It’s great that people can try to publicly interact with their heroes. But it’s also far too much work to sift through Twitter feeds, so these kinds of posts are much appreciated.

The sad (albeit somewhat impressive) part of the exchange is that Cox managed to divert attention from his piece of garbage article by trying to get his critics to answer “WHAR GUARANTEEE!!1!?” This is what we call shifting the goalposts. Everyone agrees that Burke claimed he could rebuild on the fly, and that he expected to make the playoffs this year (and last year). To claim that these are media fabrications is false, and Cox knows this. That’s why he resorted to some new, impossible to meet, standard.

Burke has been waging a war against the media for a while now, and it seems that Cox’s role is to lend “credibility” to Burke’s salvos. Hope it’s worth it for Cox … I can’t imagine he is respected by his peers, and we already know what the general public thinks of him.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 29, 2012 8:23 am

Shoalts article was HORSEBLEEP. A campaign has started in the media to change history in regards to Burkes initial statements when he arrived. Journalistic integrity out ass kissing in. Tweets from this collection of know it alls give me a break i’d rather be water boarded. FORE.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
March 29, 2012 10:22 am

I dubiously opened Feschuk column since I have pretty much ignored every damn word that has come out of Domi’s mouth for about the last decade…but I loved what he had to say. Who would have thought?

Domi said some of the things that need to be said. Current players certainly wouldn’t say it, and the sport media does not have the credibility to say what an experienced veteran can.

Good column. Good on you Domi.
It’s worth a read.

March 29, 2012 2:06 pm

Anybody who thinks you can rebuild in 3 years from what JFJ left him is simply ignorant.

We all knew it would take more time. Quoting twitter to say it would take less time is really just stupid, and something you would expect from TMZ.

Nobody would argue that the collapse was disappointing, but the REALITY is that for most of this season, the team showed some signs of some real progress.

Brian Burke, nor any other GM in the league can conjure a 1st line center or a quality goalie out of his ass. Teams do not give those up and UFA’s have been crappy at best.

So lets blame him for that I guess???

The fact he tweets that he expects playoffs doesn’t mean that it changes the 5 year project.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 29, 2012 2:42 pm

Brunt’s take on Burke,quit acting like a desperate fan! What. Stevo don’t know if there is enough room up Burkes keyster what with Cox and Shoalts firmly entrenched but if that is the extent of your analysis in regards to Burkes putrid handling of one bad move after another please stick to all things womens soccer at least in Montreal they woke up and took into account that the fan is a valuable commodity not to be dis-respected. Feschuk is on Burkes dirtbag list good on ya Dave i hope you don’t join the legion of boot-lickers.

Another Steve
Another Steve
March 29, 2012 3:05 pm

Punctuation can be your friend.

Moe Howward
Moe Howward
March 29, 2012 3:41 pm

Damien is an A-Hole but I agree that they have to stay the course. And why, why, why would anyone care what Domi thinks???

March 29, 2012 4:33 pm

AS-wow,what a dick. When you see my post skip it, could care less for your imput.

March 29, 2012 4:42 pm

Spell check can be your friend.

March 29, 2012 9:47 pm

Hank Haney salary: $50,000
Accomplishments: 6 majors, 31 wins

Francois Allaire salary: $300,000
Accomplishmens: ?????

Ami Angelwings
March 30, 2012 12:36 am

Damien is going into troll mode again -_- When you find out the premise of your argument is incorrect, you should reconsider what flowed from it. Damien moved the goalposts. Nobody said that Burke GUARANTEED anything, just that the reason people thought Burke was going to do it fast was because he SAID he was going to, and he could do it.

That’s all. TSM just wanted to provide Damien with the reason because Damien, in his column, wondered why people thought Burke would do it fast. Damien opened the door, and then he got indignant when somebody walked through it. -_-

March 30, 2012 8:40 am

There’s no way Burke would still have a job anywhere else in the league. No other team would allow this incompetent fool to reign after 4 years of crap. In his 4 years of GM the Leafs have actually finished further down the standings each year. I realize some teams have to take a step back to move forward but the Leafs have continually got worse under this pant load.

Sure they have a few prospects but then again almost every other team have prospects. After all, they’re just prospects – not sure things. On top of that, he’s locked up a bunch of mediocre players to long term, multi million dollar contracts, thus making them untradeable (i.e. they’re screwed).

As I stated, no other team would put up with this garbage. My hope is that they get blown out in their remaining 4 games ensuring that there will be enough of an outcry from Leaf fans and media to can this knob or that he quits under the pressure.

March 30, 2012 9:02 am

Let’s go Blue Jays!

March 31, 2012 9:58 am

This intramural fight between the Media Province of Leafs Nation and the fans is pure gold and the reason I wear my Leaf hatred so proudly. Keep it up guys!! P.S. The marks in this town for the GM’s of every team will be having this same conversation about their beloved AA in just a couple more years….can’t wait!!

March 31, 2012 2:07 pm

RJ, do you hate puppies and warm sunny days too?

March 31, 2012 2:16 pm

Implying a similarity between puppies/sunshine and the squalid putridness of Toronto sports teams must be the result of guzzling barrels of Burkies Berry Kool-Aid Delight! Although puppies do crap a lot and too much sunshine can be fatal, so…..

March 31, 2012 2:33 pm
March 31, 2012 2:42 pm

I think its on sale at Real Sports Bar. Be sure to order it straight whenever the GM signs a number 6 d-man for 5 years and 30 mill this summer

Ami Angelwings
March 31, 2012 4:19 pm


So… you like people being upset even though you have no stake in the actual sports? o_O

March 31, 2012 4:23 pm

I’ve interacted with leaf fans my whole life and get forcefed the propaganda ad nauseum with every 2 game winning streak and first round playoff series win. My life is much easier when the leafs are bad…I definitely have a stake in their success or failure.

Ami Angelwings
April 1, 2012 5:52 am

Maybe you should hang out with different people. xD

Ami Angelwings
April 1, 2012 5:55 am

Also, you gloated about the impending doom of the Jays… your issue doesn’t seem to be Leafs fans, unrealistic Leafs fans, or anything else… just … that you want people in Toronto to be unhappy o_O I think that is why people are going o_O at your level of anger/hatred/dark side of the force.

Ami Angelwings
April 1, 2012 5:59 am

Do you want Patrick Chan and Milos Raonic to fail too? o_O

People in Toronto were ecstatic when Team Canada won Olympic Gold. Did you hope for them to fail too just so Torontonians would be unhappy? o_O

Various communities in Toronto get REALLY excited and happy during the World Cup (and upcoming Euros) cheering for the team of their home/ancestral country. Do you hope every international team loses? xD

Just how invested in other people’s misery are you? xD

April 1, 2012 10:38 am

I’m new to the symbols people use in their writing but since the one ami uses has 2 zeroes in it with a space I’m almost certain its a reference to the level of success of toronto pro sports teams. Keep using it, it works in that context both now and in the future!

Ami Angelwings
April 1, 2012 4:44 pm

That’s the letter O XD

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