by PuckStopsHere on 11/28/08 at 03:15 PM ET
It is being reported that Brian Burke has agreed in principle to become the next general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The official announcement is expected Saturday, with his introduction probably occurring during Hockey Night In Canada. The Maple Leafs have been courting Burke to be their GM since the later part of last season when they fired John Ferguson Jr. Burke was under contract with the Anaheim Ducks serving as their GM. Burke got out of his Anaheim contract early in order to move to Toronto. The situation where Toronto courted a GM who is under contract with another organization prompting that GM to get let out of his contract does not look right. It looks as though Toronto was tampering with an Anaheim employee and should be punished for it. I think Toronto should have to give up something (such as their first round pick) to Anaheim for this situation.
Toronto has the GM that they want. Brian Burke has the job that he wants. Let’s see how this works out. Burke is clearly a top GM. He has built a Stanley Cup winner in Anaheim and done a very good job in Vancouver. He will likely do a good job with the Leafs if he is given the chance to run the team as he sees fit. The potential problem is ownership. The Maple Leaf Sports And Entertainment group has been an involved ownership group and this could lead to problems. Burke has shown that he can be stubborn and that led to his departure in Vancouver. Burke also pushed for his departures in Hartford and Anaheim in order to seek what he felt were better positions. If the Toronto ownership interferes too much in Burke’s reign there will likely be problems.
Should Burke succeed in bringing the first Stanley Cup to Toronto in over forty years, he will have built an incredible legacy. He will likely be seen as one of the best general managers in history (on par with others who build dynasties in other cities). Should the Toronto situation end badly, this will go down as another in a long list of Toronto ownership mistakes.
The Leafs are not a good team right now. It will take a few years work for any GM to make them a competitive team. Will the Toronto media and ownership be patient during the upcoming bad times? It has been joked that Burke’s honeymoon as Leafs GM will last until the first loss. More likely, things will begin to sour when the team does not look improved next season. Toronto will have to be patient for anyone to right their ship.
It may be a curse for Burke and Toronto to get what they want. Now there are no excuses if things do not work out. If Burke does not succeed in Toronto, it could lead to a bad situation. Toronto placed their hopes behind one man. That man had better deliver. It won’t be easy for him to deliver given the circumstances.
At the very least, it will be interesting in Toronto. The Leafs organization will probably be slowly righted. Its unclear how long that will take, how patient the Leafs organization will be with the process and how willing ownership will be to keep their hands off. This is the beginning of a new chapter in Toronto Maple Leafs history. The question is how happy will this chapter be?
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