Toronto Maple Leafs: The 7 Worst Moves of the Brian Burke Era
The Toronto Maple Leafs are once again standing just outside the playoff picture, making this potentially the seventh season in a row without an appearance in the postseason.
Since his GM debut in November 2008, Brian Burke has made a number of trades and deals, yet none have done anything to solidify the chances of the Leafs.
While the previous regime may have left Burke with very little to work with—except under-producing players and a ton of no-movement-claused contracts—Burke has also made his share of mistakes and blunders.
From holding onto Ron Wilson too long to the debatable Phil Kessel trade, we take a look at the seven biggest blunders of the Burke-era Maple Leafs.
Not Firing Ron Wilson Sooner
Even with just over 1,400 games coached and 600 wins, Ron Wilson became the coach of the failing Leafs a few months before Burke would enter the organization.
It became very evident last season that players had issues with Wilson, but it was never more apparent than when Ron Wilson blasted the face of the Leafs to the Toronto media.
That alone should have been his final ticket out of the city, but it was instead followed by coaching a third straight season with no playoff appearance.
It still took most of the 2012 season, culminating with an horrific skid in February, before Burke finally pulled the plug on Wilson.
Dragging on Contract Negotiations
After having offered Ron Wilson a contract extension in December (two months before he was let go), it left many Leafs fans wondering why there seems to be a holdup when looking to re-sign talent.
Last year, Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak waited until July for their contracts. Luke Schenn had to wait until September for his, and it looks like Mikhail Grabovski is going to have a similar wait this year.
Being told that they have a place in Toronto only to wait months to receive their contract has to affect the morale of the players involved.
The Leafs Organization, a Second Home for Anaheim Rejects
Dave Nonis was with them briefly, as was Mike Brown, and let’s not forget that Burke signed François Beauchemin to the Leafs after Anaheim chose not to re-sign him, only to see him shipped back to the Ducks just over a year later.
Although Joffrey Lupul seems to be the only former Duck to come to the Leafs and perform to task, Burke seems to feel that anyone Anaheim no longer wants will be a perfect fit for the Toronto organization.
Holding on to Mike Komisarek
No Movement for the 2012 Trade Deadline
Burke failed to pull the trigger on any trade that could have helped a team that spent the majority of February struggling in all areas.
Rather than trying to bolster the team with a power forward or a confident and capable starting goalie, Burke made a few minor trades that held no effect on the Leafs whatsoever.
The Failure to Obtain a No. 1 Goalie
After the 2012 trade deadline had passed, Burke went on the record to say that he had faith in his two goalies, James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson.
Reimer had a good start in the latter part of last season, but he has not been the same since his "concussion-like symptoms" earlier this season. Gustavsson has been inconsistent at best this season.
The Leafs' troubles in net date back to before Burke was GM. He ousted Toskala to Anaheim for JS Giguere, who started well, but after an injury the following season, caused the Leafs to look to Gustavsson and Reimer.
Four years later, the Maple Leafs still lack a confident No. 1 goalie.
The Kessel Deal
By far the most controversial of the blunders, the Phil Kessel trade is still a topic of debate for many fans.
Phil Kessel has performed well in Toronto, posting four consecutive 30-plus-goal seasons. Yet when the deal that brought Kessel here is looked at a little closer, we see what was lost by Toronto.
Kessel was brought in to add depth to a lacking Toronto offense and help Toronto reach the playoffs. While he has put the puck in the net in each of his seasons, his hot-and-cold play has not helped the Leafs reach the playoffs.
Add that to the fact that Lupul has 25 goals and 41 assists this season, he could have easily filled Kessel's role.
Boston managed to obtain Tyler Seguin with their pick from Toronto, and had Toronto used that pick in the same manner, they would have Lupul and Seguin plus two other picks to either bolster the weaknesses or trade for a consistent goalie.