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Analyzing Brian Burke’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs

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January 11, 2013

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Analyzing Brian Burke’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs

When Brian Burke was fired as President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s fair to say the hockey world was shocked. The timing was more than a little peculiar, and the news seemed to come out of nowhere. Three days later the dust has begun to settle, and it’s truly fascinating to see the reactions emanating from media and fans alike.

On one hand, Brian Burke failed to make the playoffs in four years, and he also failed to solve Toronto’s goaltending problems. If you listen to Burke’s detractors, they’ll also have you believe that the combustible GM failed to flex the Maple Leafs considerable financial muscles. Why didn’t Burke attempt to sign Steven Stamkos to a massive offer sheet that the Lightning couldn’t match? Why was Burke so averse to signing players to the long term contracts that every other team was handing out? Why did Burke insist on shutting down trade talks around the holidays and a week before the trade deadline? After all, no other teams were following suit.

However, it’s important to recognize the absolute mess that Burke inherited four years ago. When Burke became the President and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008, his top two centremen were Matt Stajan and Nik Antropov. The wingers rounding out his top six were Jason Blake, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Niklas Hagman, and Lee Stempniak. Burke’s defence consisted of Jeff Finger, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Ian White, and Jonas Frogren…that’s right, Jonas Frogren. The goaltending position was also in disarray as John Ferguson Jr. and Cliff Fletcher left Burke with the enigmatic Vesa Toskala. Oh yeah, and the Leafs minor league cupboard was completely bare with zero top prospects. This is a tough situation for any General Manager to walk into.

So how do we rate Burke’s tenure as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Well, the first thing to do is to acknowledge the trade that will undoubtedly define his time in Toronto. In 2009, Burke traded two first round picks and a second round pick to the Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel. The full impact of the Kessel deal won’t be felt for another few years, and there are two ways of looking at the deal…

The rest of the article is posted at TheHockeyWriters.com. Go check it out…

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