Sunday, November 30, 2008

So Now What?

The Burke has landed! No big surprise I guess, it's was an impending impact that most saw coming for months now, the only question that was unanswered at the time was when. Now we know. The certainty of Brain Burke becoming the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs was an easy guess however. The real question that sits before the hockey team is, we got our guy, now what?

Burke has had success in making hockey teams winners in short periods of time. He comes in, makes a big move or two, the team looks great, Burke looks great, every ones happy. The key to what I said is short term. Others would also argue that Burke, in many cases, has taken over good hockey teams and just taken them the final step. So is he really as good as advertised? We are going to find out one way or another now, as the challenge in front of him will leave no questions in our minds as to what kind of GM Brian Burke really is.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are not a team that needs someone to hold their hand and take the final step. What Burke has to work with at this point is a skeleton of a NHL hockey team. A big trade, for one player, won't fix the Leafs overnight this time. Just like signing Mat Sundin wouldn't make this team a playoff heavyweight either. The plan of getting the team down to a skeleton and starting over was the correct plan and I think Burke would be wise to continue on that path moving forward from here. This movement is the only plan the TML haven't tried and with a little patience it will make the team much stronger in the future. The team already has some key figures in place to build on, starting with exactly what the tear down plan calls for, young building blocks like Luke Schenn. From there the team is buoyed by strong goaltending and they have the right coach for a young, growing hockey team. A few assets that Burke may consider trying to move would be Thomas Kaberle and Jason Blake. Kaberle has a huge market, but his no trade clause could get in the way. The return on the defensemen would be young skilled players and picks however, just what the team needs. Jason Blake has a small market, an awful contract, but hey, an idiot is born every day, Burke just has to find him. The real wildcard is Burke's "style". He loves hard hitting, tuff, hockey teams. Which often means European players are not part of the plan unless your skill set is that of Teemu Sellane. So just what changes could Burke make on that angle alone? Personally, right or wrong on Burke's part, I think in time a number of 3rd and 4th line players on the team now will be traded or let go and replaced by North American hockey players.

Last but not least. If Burke does follow through with building this team back from the ground up, can the guy draft well? The future of this team hinges heavily on draft picks working out well now and in the future. In Burke's history as a GM his drafting ability hasn't been under the spotlight like it will this time around in Toronto. The whole situation of Burke and the Maple Leafs has been front and center to the point of nausea, but now that everything is in place watching what happens will be real fun.

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

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