Lately, in the mainstream media, it seems as though the popular opinion is that Burke, despite having the team in the playoffs, now and for the majority of this season, hasn’t lived up to expectations. This is of course based solely on the team’s record since he has taken the reins while completely fucking ignoring all the actual things he has done. Damien Cox I’m looking at you. (Is it just me, or does it seem Cox tries really hard to be a "ask the tough questions" reporter -be it the Leafs, Blue Jays, etc, while seemingly paying only half attention to what’s actually going t’fuck on.) But I digress, this is supposed to be a post about Burke and all those actual things he has done.
First off about the record, while it’s undeniable: they haven’t been very fucking good at all- in Burkie's time here, I’m not so sure we all remember just how terrible with a T, the team he inherited was. In that first year, in which he quite successfully and swiftly cleared house, while netting us Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie and some guy named Phil Kessel. There are almost no remaining players from the pre-Burke era (Thank Christ), I won’t list them here but I’m sure I’ve seen other posts about that.
Next, and I think this gets brushed over quite quickly, is the difference in the organization, how they draft, how they scout, how they evaluate players, player development and I’m sure waaaaaay more things I’m too ignorant to even understand. This is huge in the hard cap world, and Burke brought it up once again in an interview on the fan yesterday with Bob McGowan and –my buddy- Mr. Cox.
Digression: -tying in to my earlier digression - Before the Sabres game Cox said: (from memory)
You know, implying that Frattin beat him earlier in the year but now Kadri has supplanted him. Which is true, in the sense that yes, Kadri started his season in the Ricoh while Frattin was at the ACC, but I believe strongly (pretty sure I heard this from Burke or Wilson) that Kadri actually had that spot when camp was ending but then hurt his knee, so rather than rush him back, let him start in the minors, (kinda like a rehab stint) which absolutely made sense given that Frattin looked pretty good and wasn’t a liability out there and Lombardi scoring in the first game bought him some slack.
Anyway, digression over, - this post may need a flowchart by the end- Burke made the point that in a hard cap system, the only advantage big market teams have, where they can outspend, is on the management side, hire more scouts, more trainers, pay the best, attract the best, he said that Dave Nonis had it in his contract that he can’t leave until his contract expires, and that the Leafs pay well for that privilege. I would be very surprised if any other number 2 guy gets that kind of money, and for that matter I’m sure Loiselle and Dudley get paid better than a lot of 2s. It’s like any competitive business, if someone has a better mouse trap… buy it! It’s this aspect of what Burke has done that has me the most excited and optimistic about the future. When was the last time the Marlies were actually any good? When have we ever been sending down the Colbournes and the Frattins and Gardniers, in days of old we would be counting on these guys, or have traded them for Owen Nolan or Ron Francis.
I think I had a couple other points, but I’ve forgotten them and I think I’ve gotten my point across, I’m tired and drunk. Go Leafs. Oh and in case you missed the interview- I think you can find it on The Fan 590 website, in the Audio on Demand section. Or maybe not, I don’t care.