I made a pledge to not support the NHL or NHLPA this year in protest of another stupid, waste of time, work stoppage. I even toyed with the idea of burning a hockey jersey a week until the league and it’s players came to their senses but apparently my wife told me I could get fined for burning a jersey in the middle of my street.
So when the lockout ended, I settled in for another mediocre season from the Toronto Maple Leafs who had no NHL calibre goaltender, no centre for Phil Kessel and still a lot of average players on a very sucky roster which looked more like Team USA than a team in Ontario. I thought the dream of every Ontario boy was to wear the maple leaf on his chest? I guess when you put out an inferior product for so many years the team becomes a winning team, and from the number of American players on the team, how many dreamed of playing for the blue and white? My thoughts too. Probably none.
So today, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a HUGE step in the right direction by firing GM Brian Burke. Possibly with the pending trade for goalie Roberto Luongo, or after Burkie signed Ontarian Jay McClement (who?) to play centre, the teams board of directors had enough.
Under Burke’s watch, the Leaf’s accomplished this;
No playoffs since 2004.
No clean plan on how to get there – when the chance came to tank it for a high pick, they went on a winning streak.
Lots of promises – nothing to show for it.
Burke did land Dion Phaneuf in a seven-player deal with Calgary in 2010, who was the team’s captain but many speculate it was Burke who selected him as captain and not the players.
Leaf’s fans will shake their heads at Burke’s 2009 deal with Boston, when he acquired sniper Phil Kessel for two first-round draft picks and a second-round selection who turned out to be star forward Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight.
Burke let players go for nothing and his loyalty cost the team when he added an extra year to coach Ron Wilson’s contract just before he fired him and his love of dipping into his previous employer, the Ducks, for their players.
The biggest problem I had with Burke’s philosophy was his pledge to have a truculent team who were tough to play against and then he proceeded to stock the team full of skilled (on unskilled and not tough) players. Once that team was shaped, he fired peace-loving coach Wilson and hired – you guessed it – former Ducks coach Randy Carlyle – who wants a team that is tough and will fight and hit. Well Randy, that is not the team you have here, which leads me to believe he’s the wrong coach for this team. Or, Burke was the wrong GM.
Here is the team Burke leaves for fans. I have highlighted the number of American players because former GM Burke was also the GM of team USA and I think by bringing all the US players here was a poor choice.
Dave Nonis takes over as GM. Like he did in Vancouver and in Anaheim after Burke was fired.
I might have to break my pledge now and watch some games because business just picked up!
Team USA, errr, Toronto Maple Leafs.
|—||Keith Aucoin||34||5-8||169||R||Waltham, Massachusetts||11/6/78|
|42||Tyler Bozak||26||6-1||195||R||Regina, Saskatchewan||3/19/86|
|32||Joe Colborne||22||6-5||216||L||Calgary, Alberta||1/30/90|
|12||Tim Connolly||31||6-1||190||R||Syracuse, New York||5/7/81|
|43||Nazem Kadri||22||6-0||188||L||London, Ontario||10/6/90|
|15||Matthew Lombardi||30||5-11||195||L||Montreal, Quebec||3/18/82|
|11||Jay McClement||29||6-1||205||L||Kingston, Ontario||3/2/83|
|20||David Steckel||30||6-5||218||L||Westbend, Wisconsin||3/15/82|
|48||Ryan Hamilton||27||6-2||219||L||Oshawa, Ontario||4/15/85|
|41||Nikolai Kulemin||26||6-1||225||L||Magnitogorsk, USSR||7/14/86|
|16||Clarke MacArthur||27||6-0||191||L||Lloydminster, Alberta||4/6/85|
|—||James van Riemsdyk||23||6-3||200||L||Middletown, New Jersey||5/4/89|
|37||Carter Ashton||21||6-3||215||L||Winnipeg, Manitoba||4/1/91|
|18||Mike Brown||27||5-11||205||R||Northbrook, Illinois||6/24/85|
|39||Matt Frattin||24||5-11||187||R||Edmonton, Alberta||1/3/88|
|81||Phil Kessel||25||6-0||202||R||Madison, Wisconsin||10/2/87|
|19||Joffrey Lupul||29||6-1||206||R||Edmonton, Alberta||9/23/83|
|28||Colton Orr||30||6-3||222||R||Winnipeg, Manitoba||3/3/82|
|4||Cody Franson||25||6-5||213||R||Salmon Arm, British Columbia||8/8/87|
|—||Mark Fraser||26||6-3||220||L||Ottawa, Ontario||9/29/86|
|51||Jake Gardiner||22||6-0||200||L||Deephaven, Minnesota||7/4/90|
|36||Carl Gunnarsson||26||6-2||196||L||Orebro, Sweden||11/9/86|
|55||Korbinian Holzer||24||6-3||205||R||Munich, Germany||2/16/88|
|8||Mike Komisarek||30||6-4||243||R||West Islip, New York||1/19/82|
|24||John-Michael Liles||32||5-10||185||L||Zionsville, Indiana||11/25/80|
|3||Dion Phaneuf||27||6-3||214||L||Edmonton, Alberta||4/10/85|
|—||Morgan Rielly||18||6-0||200||L||Vancouver, British Columbia||3/9/94|
|34||James Reimer||24||6-2||208||L||Winnipeg, Manitoba||3/15/88|
|40||Jussi Rynnas||25||6-5||212||L||Pori, Finland||5/22/87|
|30||Ben Scrivens||26||6-2||192||L||Spruce Grove, Alberta||9/11/86|
- Dave Nonis replaces Brian Burke as Maple Leafs GM (metronews.ca)
- Toronto Maple Leafs Reportedly Fire GM Brian Burke (bleacherreport.com)
- Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly fire Brian Burke (cbc.ca)