Trade Deadline: How Brian Burke Made All the Right Moves Except for One

Shane HouseAnalyst IFebruary 28, 2012

Brian Burke
Brian BurkeBruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Trade Deadline brings a lot anticipation and speculation as to what that make-up of a team will be come 3:00 pm deadline day. Who will be moved? Will they be buyers or sellers? Will they get that big name everybody has been talking about (Rick Nash in this case). 

But no other city in the NHL has more speculation than the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are marred in the worst slump of the season going into yesterday's trade deadline. Should they get a veteran goalie? Should they get another top-six forward? Who will be sent in return to help get this team out of the slump?

Despite all the pressure that was put onto Brian Burke to make a move, he for the most part, stood pat. In my opinion this was the best move that could have been made.

Even though the Leafs are in slump as of late, this is still one of the youngest teams in the NHL and they have a few bumps in the road to deal with during a full 82-game schedule. Brian Burke has to see what he has on the team in order to know what the next move will be come this offseason. 

Plus the Leafs have always been a team that has traded away prospects for short-term solutions, so why come should they resort to the same old habits?

Regardless of what happened before the trade deadline, Brian Burke would have been ridiculed for whatever moves, or lack of moves, he made. If he invested prospects for a rental player, he would have been giving away the future of the franchise. If he made no moves at all, he is being pompous and contradictory in his prior statements about making it to the playoffs.

So I gave Brian Burke credit for having the tenacity to stand pat and do what was right for the team, and that is let them work out their problems and get back on track.

The real question that people should be asking themselves is why the Leafs are in a slump in the first place?

"I'm debating starting our own trade freeze 10 days before the deadline, much like I do prior to Christmas … that's how distracting it is," Burke said. "It's amazing. Clarke MacArthur was traded 10 times (before the deadline), Mikhail Grabovski 12 times, (Nikolai) Kulemin and Luke Schenn was traded 50 times. I think it's remarkable that the players have kept their focus through this. The trade deadline is hard on players, but murder on players in Toronto -- so we've had serious debate whether we would do this 10 days earlier so that our players can relax." - Brian Burke

This past month has had so many shots thrown at the Leafs, it's surprising the team has won any games at all. Regardless of how much money you make, getting ridiculed publicly on a daily basis by both fans and media will have an effect on a person.

The sad thing is that the Leafs aren't just getting it from fans and media, they're also getting it from their coach too.

Ron Wilson has publicly ripped his players and team multiple times. I am not saying it's something uncommon in professional sports (normally used as a rare tactic to fire up the team), but consistently bashing your players to the media is never good for the morale of any organization, even outside of the sports world.

Just imagine going to work and having your boss ream you out in front of all your fellow employees, and then posting what he just told you on Facebook.

That is basically what Ron Wilson has been doing on what now seems like a daily basis.
In almost any other workplace, a manager who does something like that would be fired on the spot. On the Toronto Maple Leafs, it seems acceptable to almost everyone.

The Leafs have obviously not responded to it either, no penalty-killing percentage has been better than 78.0 or above a 28th place ranking in the last four years. Very few young players have developed well while with the Toronto Maple Leafs (exceptions being Gardiner, Schenn and Reimer) and except for James Reimer's miraculous run last year, no goaltender has had a save percentage above .907 in the past four years while playing over 20 games.

The team hasn't been responding to him for a while now and it is hard to believe that these players want to play for this guy. It is time for some new blood to run the franchise and get the full potential out of this team. This is the only move that Brian should have made at the trade deadline: firing Wilson.