A scant two weeks after Burke left the Ducks it looks like Brian Burke's tenure as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs is set to begin. Now, Damien Cox is jumping the gun and assuming that no problems will arise while the always responsible Bob McKenzie is taking the journalism route and waiting for confirmation from the principals:
"It's certainly headed in the right direction," Burke told TSN, "but it's not it done yet. I anticipate it will get done but it's not done."
Burke said he would have to stop just short of saying there is an "agreement in principle" with the Leafs because there are still some outstanding issues that he must negotiate and sign off on with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Richard Peddie.
So where does that leave this site? Well, since we aren't journalists and just offer our opinion, much like Damien Cox, backed by facts, unlike Damien Cox, we are not beholden to those lofty journalistic standards that keep McKenzie from trying to get the scoop on his rivals (as of 12:31pm no other Toronto paper had reported the deal as being done) rather than wait for any sort of official statement. Plus, EastLoop assures me that things are done and Burke just wants a quiet American Thanksgiving and I've never had a reason to not believe her.
First up, the essential reading from here:
And Earl Sleek's great Brian Burke Week Series:
- Brian Burke Week Part 1: Sleek defends three "bad" moves
- Burke Week #2: Let's get critical!
- Brian Burke Week Part III: Nothing but shout-outs
- Burke Week #4: GM Lessons from a Cup Champ
- Burke Week #5: Finale
After the jump, Chemmy and my thoughts:
All of the links at the top of the page provide an excellent analysis of Burke's tenures in Anaheim and Vancouver and an examination of his weaknesses and strengths. One thing that has become abundantly clear is that there is no need to rush. Cliff, like a kindly grandfather, has shepherded the team through the first part of a difficult period with skill and a gentle touch. The Leafs have the benefit of being able to wait things out until they find the best candidate. They have apparently decided that that man is Brian Burke.
Nashville's Poile is an example of a GM that has done a lot with scant resources and that could be availabl to the Leafs at the end of the summer. However, much like JFJ's vaunted plan to clear the decks to take a run at pending UFAs like Roberto Luongo and Jarome Iginla waiting for the right dance partner can often leave one alone in the corner wondering why the only partners left are wearing headgear. Not to mention that a GM that has success with less resources is not guaranteed to be a success when handed a pot of money (see Sather, Glen and Lowe, Kevin).
There's also the issue of the differing situations in which Burke found himself. People are worried that Burke will come to Toronto and wipe out the Europeans when he had a pretty euro-centric team in Vancouver. Hell, if he had of ditched Cloutier for a real goaltender I think that the Canucks would have hoisted the Cup in 2002. Scary thought eh? Or maybe Burke can only step into situations where he is stepping into a good situation talent-wise and make the final changes? Well, the Leafs aren't the greatest team in the league but they do have some good parts. Kaberle, Kubina, and Schenn on the backend along with Grabovski, Stempniak, Hagman, and Antropov on the front-end represent at least some modicum of skill and it brings me to one of the points that Sleek made that really caught my eye:
Lesson One: If you want depth, don't acquire depth players; instead insert talent at the top of your roster.
Burke is coming to a team that needs more (most people would say 'some') top-end talent. Whether he acquires it via trade or draft the Leafs have the resources available to a man that has shown that he can adapt to the situation at hand and succeed. Are the Ducks worse off than when he left? I don't think it's as easy as saying that he lost Bryzgalov and McDonald for nothing and was not been able to play Bobby Ryan before he left because of cap constraints. He was loyal to a Cup winning goalie and to two huge pieces of the team's success. Not to mention that this summer the Ducks will have all of their vital pieces signed long-term and a huge wad of money for the new GM to show that he can replicate Burke's success.
He also leaves Anaheim one pretty great parting gift: A Stanley Cup. Will Burke leave the Leafs the same way in 6 years? Maybe not and no one is a guarantee but I'm willing to bet on another Irishman getting the Leafs as close as possible.
I'm just going to weigh in here quickly. It's somewhat hard to argue with Burke's cup win in Anaheim, but I wonder if Burke is the right guy to stock the cupboard, so to speak. Burke came in to possession of an Anaheim team that had been drafting early for the better part of a decade, and that let him make some of his moves.
- Burke lost Bryzgalov for nothing. Toronto paid a first rounder and took on salary to get Vesa Toskala before that season.
- It may have been just a rumor, but when Burke needed to unload Mathieu Schneider, there was talk of him including Bobby Ryan to sweeten the deal. Hopefully that was just a rumor but...
- Burke's poor cap management is the reason Bobby Ryan didn't play earlier this season.
- That said, in Vancouver Burke was instrumental in drafting the Sedin sisters, and somewhat revitalizing the Canucks.
I know that Fletcher is happy with the interim tag, he's old and probably very tired, but Fletcher's still working magic with the Grabovski and Stempniak deals. I think Fletcher's ready to move on, and Brian Burke is certainly the best candidate available, I just hope this works.