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From The Branches - Apocalypse Edition

Ok, now that the Caps are out of the playoffs we can get back to the business of some serious self-flagellation (ie cheering for the Leafs) once more. Turns out that Brian Burke will be honouring his contract with the Ducks. While it's nice to see that Burke will honour his contract it's a stumbling block in the Leafs' rebuilding efforts. The press release mentioned that the two sides would be working on an extension to his current contract. This is old news. They have been negotiating for over a year and Burke hasn't signed.

What does this mean for the Leafs? If they truly believe that Burke is the answer to the GM problems then they will let Uncle Cliff keep the reins until next summer when Burke's contract expires. This contingency was obviously planned for since Cliff's deal runs through next summer. If the Leaf have already decided that this is the plan that they are going to follow then they will wait for their best candidate rather than hiring the best available candidate. Doing otherwise is what got the team Jason Blake last summer.

As for their lack of action regarding the 'candidates' that are not under contract (Campbell, Armstrong, etc) some people are already rushing to accuse MLSE of dragging their heels without stopping to think that maybe those people have already been dismissed as viable candidates. Makes sense right?

It is definitely a game of high-risk Russian roulette waiting to see if Burke will hold out for an entire season without re-signing. What if he re-signs during the season and all of this summer's candidates are taken and next year's crop is sub-par? It's so high-risk that I doubt that the team will follow through.

Bob Mackenzie noted that the Leafs will probably have already developed a list of targets and that they could have a few strategies. The first was the scenario above, another option would be to go after target 1 (Burke) and if he's not available move on down the list until the team has a new GM, and a final one would be to ask permission to speak to all of their targets that are under contract and to see which ones get permission. Right now, it's anyone's guess what path the team will follow but I wouldn't be surprised to see Cliff in charge for the next season and if it means ultimately making the best hiring possible then I am ok with Uncle Cliff getting another crack at the Muskoka Five.

  • Steve thinks it's over.

  • Ninja is back! And he thinks that there is a better candidate already available.

  • Greener laments the end of the media circus before it could even get the big top set up on Burke's lawn.

  • Eyebeleaf is willing to wait for next summer.

  • Moose does not think that Burke is the be-all and end-all to the GM search.

  • Sean is on suicide watch. If you see a glassy eyed, unshaven, morose-looking guy wandering around Ottawa mumbling something about a damn Irish bastard make sure he doesn't have any sharp objects before approaching him for a hug.

  • Dr. Mirtle should probably be more disappointed that a great quote like Burke won't be in his city. Great comments.

  • Dr. Mirtle also brings up ESPN's famous fan satisfaction survey. Some friends e-mailed me this and didn't doubt it's veracity because it's a. from ESPN and b. involved 60,000 responses. The comments are full of good questions about the survey so let's see how many more shocking mistakes and questions we can find about the survey. The methodology is here. The full ranking can be found here