by PuckStopsHere on 03/26/12 at 07:54 PM ET
Brian Burke has been the Toronto Maple Leafs GM since he was hired early in the 2008/09 season. He has had two complete seasons and two almost complete seasons. In that time his team has never made the playoffs and it looks unlikely that they will be there this season. Many Leaf fans have run out of patience. In fact a recent poll says more fans think he has the Leafs on the wrong track than on the right one. If those fans had their way, many would like to see him fired.
This is a problem I somewhat anticipated. In an old post I thought waiting around for Burke to come available and at the time sticking with GM Cliff Fletcher was not a great move. I argued in the comments of that post that it is a big job to rebuild the Leafs at that time and even if Burke could do it there was a good chance that fans could turn on him and he could be fired before he got it done.
The process of waiting for Brian Burke to be GM slowed the rebuilding process. The Leafs were lucky to get Burke on a faster basis than i expected, with him soon leaving the Anaheim Ducks. The Leafs appear to be on right track under Burke, but the track is so long that patience may not exist to get to the end.
Brian Burke is a good GM. He has proven so. He won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks. He drafted much of the Vancouver Canucks current core in Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. In Toronto he traded for many of their top players including Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf. The biggest thing he needs is to find a top goalie. So far he has had no luck. Toronto made a big step forward this season and for much of the season looked like they might be a playoff team and with a goalie they would be. Most casual fans who answered in the poll or call into sports radio shows do not care to see this evidence. All that matters is the Leafs will miss the playoffs. If the Leafs don’t produce you fire whoever is in charge; even if he is the right guy for the job. The problem is the job is a big one and it takes many years to rebuild an ailing franchise like the 2008 Toronto Maple Leafs.
The true test of the Toronto Maple Leafs and if they are ever going to go anywhere is to see how they handle the fans turning against Brian Burke. They need to stay the course. If they do not, it will be a long time until their next Stanley Cup contender. It has already been a long time since their last win.
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