January 9, 2013 by stevietz93
The timing here is absolutely puzzling. With 10 days to go until the beginning of this lockout-shortened season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired their president and general manager, Brian Burke.
It boggles my mind, because it literally does not make sense. A firing like this makes the Leafs look like the New York Jets of the NHL: a total circus. Now, I’m not saying I agree with everything Burke has done as GM. There’s been great trades, there’s been dumb trades, and there sure as hell has been some bad free agent signings (see; Mike Komisarek, Tim Connolly). But in a shortened season with a young team who have the expectations of the hockey universe to finally do something worth cheering for, you do this. You fire the captain of the ship in cold-blood, and don’t even let us see out what he had in store.
A common reasoning as to why he was just let go could very well be that the team he promised when he was hired is not even close to the team we see today. Truculence, aggression, mean and hard-hitting are things that never came to fruition under Burke’s version of the Maple Leafs. They seemed like a soft, fast team that was built to score goals, but could’t really score goals anyway. But that’s not the point. Let’s just ramble off some names that Burke brought into the fold.
Kessel, Lupul, Bozak, Kadri, Frattin, Phaneuf, Gardiner, Van Reimsdyk, Reilly, Biggs, Percy, Finn, Colborne.
There’s more names, but those names
are were(?) the core and future-core of this team and the youth there is staggering. It just doesn’t make sense why you wouldn’t let him at least start the season and see the ship through for a little bit. He didn’t even get a chance.
As I’m sitting on my couch watching Hockey Central on Sportsnet with Doug Maclean, Nick Kypreos and Darren Millard, the main talk here is that he was fired because he didn’t pull the trigger on bringing in Roberto Luongo. Burke has never been an advocate of handing out long-term deals and Luongo has 10 years left on his deal. But it seems like it would be justifiable to bring him in, since Burke isn’t the one who signed the contract. Regardless, trades can’t be made at this point in the CBA, because it hasn’t even been ratified yet. So, pure speculation, Burke’s already had this talk with new ownership, and they canned him so that they could bring a guy in who will pull the trigger when trades are allowed.
Chances are what I said above is wrong, but there is new ownership, the telecommunications giants Bell and Rogers, and they probably want to steer the ship in a different direction than the old regime, the Ontario teacher’s pension fund, wanted to.
My friend Armen Bedakian, a columnist for RedNation Online, just informed me that the Toronto FC fired their coach also. To quote him, “MLSE ain’t f***in’ around.”
And hopefully he’s right. Maybe it is MLSE finally putting their foot down, being sick of all the losing and wanting to bring in new regimes that will care less about making money and more about winning championships.
What the Leafs need is a player to become the face of their franchise, because unfortunately, the face of this franchise has been Brian Burke since the day he was hired. Many will argue that it’s Kessel or Phaneuf, but it’s not, plain and simple. Everything centered around Burke.
For all we know – … well, we really don’t know at this point. Will Kessel be gone soon? What about Phaneuf? Will they bring in Luongo? Will they strip the club bare and start from scratch? Will Randy Carlyle still be the head coach? Will Dave Nonis replace Burke?
I hope to god this doesn’t start a giant firesale, but who am I to question Bell and Rogers? I haven’t seen a Leafs playoff game since I was 11. I’m going to be 20 in February. For the centre of the NHL, that’s unacceptable.
Bell, Rogers, I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the move to fire Burke. I’m just puzzled and hope to have some clarification soon. all I want to see is playoff hockey. Here’s to hoping you guys right the ship.