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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

Burke’s Two Year Anniversary

from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,

Introduced as the Maple Leafs GM on Nov. 29, 2008, Burke’s plan to rebuild on the fly can charitably be called a work in progress two years in.

The Leafs have yet to make the playoffs, don’t have a first-round pick until 2012 and, after bottoming out in 29th place in the 30-team NHL a year ago with 74 points, are on pace for just 71 this season.

After two ugly losses this past weekend, Toronto has a 65-75-24 record under Burke, and his team-building strategy has been curiously at odds with what has worked for most franchises since the NHL’s salary cap was introduced.

With that in mind, here’s a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of Burke’s first two years as Leafs GM.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

Developing A Winning Attitude In Toronto

from Bill Lankhof of the Toronto Sun,

Goalie Jonas Gustavsson says there’s a growing camaraderie.

“We’re all young and even the older guys like Kabe,” he said, laughing, “like our music. There’s a lot of energy.”

As late as the start of 2009, everyone was in the same leaky Leafs boat. Everyone sweated about it. Everyone was rowing. They just weren’t all necessarily rowing in the same direction.

“We’re trying to develop a winning attitude. The one thing about this team is that everyone hangs out together,” Schenn said.

It worked in Chicago, Versteeg said. It can work here. “When you have that chemistry off the ice, it sometimes helps out on the ice, too.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Not the Best Of Time For Lebda In Toronto

from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,

So far, however, all Lebda has become is the Leafs’ forgotten man on the blueline. The 28-year-old has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games since being benched after his giveaway led to a goal early in a win last week over the Nashville Predators.

After 10 games as a Leaf, Lebda is a team-worst minus-9 and has fallen behind two youngsters with more than 300 fewer games NHL experience.

Instead of a new beginning, his start in Toronto has been a bit of a nightmare.

“It’s frustrating,” Lebda said. “Just this whole start of the year has been like that. Getting hurt in training camp, missing the first two, three weeks and trying to get back in game shape without those exhibition games.

“Now I’m in a hole and hopefully I get a chance here to climb out of it.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brett+lebda

Brad Richards to Toronto?

Leaf Nation is notorious for building castles in the air. Any time a major player hits the market via trade or free agency, the city of Toronto becomes obsessed, even convinced, that said player’s dream is to play for the Maple Leafs.

So when free-agent-to-be Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars drop in at the Air Canada Center tonight, the obvious question arises: Is there a chance the Stars’ Line 1 Center could find himself donning a Blue and White Jersey before the end of the year?

When asked about the possibility of being traded to Toronto by the media following the pre-game skate on Monday, Richards replied, “When the time comes, if that’s an option, Toronto’s always a No. 1 hockey destination. It would be great being a Canadian playing in Toronto, but we’re not even close to that bridge yet. And like I said, I’m focused here. I have so much respect for Joe Nieuwendyk, and to even talk about other teams is not even close to being fair.”

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brad+richards

Playing in Honour of Burns Tonight

As much as I’d enjoy watching the Leafs whoop the Habs by a score like 6-0, I really hope it’s a close game. Heck, I’d take a close game where the Habs win even than a blowout where the Leafs win.

I know there are Leafs fans out there who threw up in their mouth as I said that. I don’t care.

Because tonight is not about the Leafs. Nor is it about the Habs. It’s about Burnsie.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: pat+burns

“My Dad Hates Losing”- Katie Burke

As Brian Burke prepared to mark his 1,000th game as a general manager in the National Hockey League this weekend, his daughter Katie Burke wrote to The Globe and Mail in response to media columnist Bruce Dowbiggin’s article on Friday. Dowbiggin reported a debate as to whether the media in Toronto is holding back criticism of the Maple Leafs General Manager out of sympathy, as Brian Burke continues to grieve the loss of his son Brendan in a car accident last year.

As Brian’s oldest daughter, I wanted to take a moment to clarify some of the assumptions made in the ongoing conversation within the Toronto media:

First and foremost, my dad hates losing. Hates it. He hates losing at Scrabble, he hates losing a bet, and he really hates losing hockey games.

Growing up, the first thing you told any friend who attended a hockey game with you was that if the team lost, they would be well advised not to speak to my dad after the game. I can guarantee you that there is nothing the media could write or say about the Leafs’ performance that my dad hasn’t thought himself, and no one is more critical of his own work than my father.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

Kessel Or Kovalchuk?

from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,

So why Kessel over Kovalchuk? That’s easy.

For starters, Kessel is only 23-years old compared to Kovalchuk, who is 27. Also, there is only four more years left on Kessel’s contract after this season compared to 14 more for Kovalchuk. There are kids just learning to skate who could be Kovalchuk’s teammates if he plays the entire duration of his contract.

Also, Kessel may not possess leadership qualities, but I have never heard him referred to as a dog. The same cannot be said for Kovalchuk who often seems disinterested, especially when he doesn’t have the puck.

That much was evident Thursday night. In a game that could be described as life or death for both clubs, even though it’s early in the season, Kessel thoroughly outplayed Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuk played 22:50 and had an assist to go with four shots on goal. However, he often seemed lethargic and there was no desperation in his game to get the Devils back into the contest when they fell behind. Kessel, on the other hand, played 20 minutes and finished with one goal—the game winner. He had six shots on goal and hit the goal post on another. He was engaged on virtually each and every of the 21 shifts he skated.


Filed in: NHL Teams, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ilya+kovalchuk, phil+kessel

Take It Easy On Brian Burke?

from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,

With the Maple Leafs floundering, it’s hard not to find fault – okay, a lot of fault – with the lack of progress since Burke grabbed the wheel. But The Fan 590’s Howard Berger has blogged that Burke’s heart doesn’t seem in his work since his son’s death, a suggestion Burke rejects.

So should media mitigate the barbs? Thursday on Andrew Krystal in the Morning on The Fan in Toronto, Krystal interviewed Todd Kays, co-author of Sports Psychology for Dummies. Krystal confessed he was having a hard time dissing Burke in light of his grief. So what’s a talking head supposed to do?

Kays’s response was simple. While we must be sensitive to people’s grief, the Ohio State University professor said the world moves on. “At some point, life goes back on. That’s the sad thing that when somebody dies in our lives, we think the whole world should stop. The reality is, it doesn’t.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

Can Versteeg Keep Playing Like This?

Kris Versteeg’s 2-Goal effort against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday was the first time the Leaf winger has scored more than once in a game this season – not exactly a surprise considering he has only 4 goals on the season thus far. In fact, this was only the 4th moment in his 186-game NHL career that Versteeg has found the back of the net multiple times, and the first since November 19, 2009.

It is safe to say, then, that on Tuesday, Versteeg had one of the better offensive nights of his career in the regular season. His effort was a sigh of relief to Leaf fans, who have been waiting for the former Chicago Blackhawk to provide some much-needed secondary scoring.

Missing in the glory of a comeback victory, however, is the fact that a calamity of factors contributed to how well Versteeg played against the Predators.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: kris+versteeg

No Email Trail In Burke’s Days With The NHL

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Brian Burke figured if there had been e-mail when he was the lord of the NHL’s office of discipline, the current firestorm over Colin Campbell’s indelicate messages to staffers would look like a single sparkler on a windy day.

“I felt exactly like Colie felt,” Burke told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “There were divers and clowns in our league and I called them that.”

The only difference is Campbell provided such assessment in electronic mail that lived on long past the moment that spawned the comments which ultimately ended up as evidence in a wrongful dismissal suit and fodder for the media.

“If I’d used e-mail, I’d have used the same language,” said Burke, who was vice president and director of hockey operations for the NHL from 1993-98. “Only I didn’t get caught because there was no e-mail trail.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke, colin+campbell

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


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