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LLL - Burke Has Done a Lot of Good

Brian Burke has done a lot of good.

He really has.

He found a way to turn Jason Blake into Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

He brought in Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie for Matt Stajan, Nicklas Hagman and Ian White.

He has slowly replenished a once depleted prospect pool to feature the likes of Kadri, Caputi, Reimer, D’Amigo, Ross, Rynnas, McKegg, Brunnstrom – many of whom he landed without giving up a material asset.

He brought in the Monster, winning a bidding war against several other teams.

Apart from Komisarek, he has used free agency and trade to bring in players (such as Versteeg, Armstrong, MacArthur and Bozak) that are slowly etching themselves into the identity of the Maple Leafs.

In short: the Leafs’ team and organizational depth have been transformed under Burke.

The problem is that all that good is overshadowed by Leaf Nation’s obsession with the potential blunder that was the Kessel trade.

In that shuffle, all the good that Burke has done often gets lost.

It shouldn’t.

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

Comments

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“The problem is that all that good is overshadowed by Leaf Nation’s obsession with the potential blunder that was the Kessel trade.”

That, and the standings.

Posted by jonquixote on 01/22/11 at 04:57 PM ET

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“Good” is only “good” when you’ve got a context.  The context of all these moves is that they’re about the same place that John Ferguson had them before he was fired.

How can that possibly be considered good?

AND, worse than some peoples’ “obsession” with the terrible Kessel deal is the fact that others refuse to see it for what it was.  It was a bad deal.  Two firsts and a second for a guy that Boston was willing to let stew rather than sign.  And Burke would’ve given up even MORE if he wasn’t afraid of looking like a flip flopper by sending an offer sheet Kessel’s way.

If Toronto had Sequin’s points total instead of Kessel’s, would they be that much worse?  No, they wouldn’t, AND they would still have that second round pick last year and a top five pick this year.  They’d have a future.  For all these “positive” that he’s done, they’re going to follow three post-lockout years of not making the playoffs under JFJ with a third year missing the playoffs under Brian Burke.

What’s good about that?

Posted by Garth on 01/22/11 at 05:47 PM ET

Shiv's avatar

@ Garth: You’ve proven my point. If the Leafs had Seguin the moment and EVERYTHING else was the same (that is the exact same moves above were made), there is no way anyone would be saying Burke has done a bad job. By the way, the Leafs are in a much better position today than when JFJ was fired. It’s not even close.

@Jon and PuckHound: Yes the Leafs still have to improve a lot. And odds are it will be later rather than sooner.

Posted by Shiv from Toronto on 01/22/11 at 06:06 PM ET

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“If the Leafs had Seguin the moment and EVERYTHING else was the same…there is no way anyone would be saying Burke has done a bad job.”

Seguin and Jared Knight and probably a guy like Ryan Strome.  That’s kind of a big if. 

But it’s not the only criticism.  Your article leaves out names like “Kaberle” and “Beauchemin,” for example. 

But I’d look at it this way.  Roger Ebert says you evaluate a movie by how well it accomplishes its goals.  It’s how scary but kinda dumb movies like HALLOWEEN can get 4-star ratings, and decent but too-earnest Oscar bait like HEREAFTER gets 2 1/2. The latter is nowhere near as dumb as the former, but it doesn’t do what it sets out to do. 

If Burke had decided to rebuild his team in the “traditional” post-lockout manner - and kept those picks - he’d have a lot more leeway in the eyes of the fanbase because he’d be hitting the goals he set.

But he set different goals.  And completely whiffed on them while robbing the fan-base of the booby prizes that normally come with seasons of sucking muck at the bottom of the standings. 

It’s been a disaster.  Not because he hasn’t done anything right - because he has - but because he has majorly misread the team, its abilities, and how to fix them.  And there’s no denying that - he set out to make the playoffs and didn’t.  He robbed the future to pay for a present that consists of empty air. 

And that’s worth a cacophony of criticism.  A few good trades and prospect signings don’t really change that, even accepting the surface of your defenses of him as gospel and not giggling at the inclusion of names like Brunnstrom on your fat prospect list or ooohing at the magic of picking up an overpaid goalie in exchange for an overpaid winger.

Posted by jonquixote on 01/22/11 at 09:54 PM ET

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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.

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