Toronto Maple Leafs: Why They Can't Use Brian Burke's Firing as an Excuse

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJanuary 22, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: General manager Brian Burke (L) and SVP of Hockey Operations Dave Nonis of the Toronto Maple Leafs look on prior to the start of Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After managing the Toronto Maple Leafs for four years of futility, Brian Burke found himself removed from the general manager position and shifted into a senior advisory role.

With this team being almost identical to the team Burke assembled last season, many believe that this team is not capable of locking up a postseason berth.

Burke's firing also looks like a vote of non-confidence in the team he built, which seems like an excuse for this team to not make the postseason in 2013.

That, however, is a silly assumption.

First and foremost, Burke's firing may have been more about his philosophy (which was still more conservative that the terms outlined in the new CBA) than his performance.

Sure he didn't guide this team to the postseason, but he was doing a nice job in building this team for sustained success in the future.

The second reason that the Leafs can't use Burke's firing as an excuse is the fact that their rocky goaltending last season should stabilize this year now that James Reimer's had some time to recover.

Keep in mind, when healthy, Reimer has been a very good goalie.

In 2010-11 when he was called up, Reimer helped the Leafs go on a run that nearly landed them a playoff spot. That season, Reimer posted a 2.60 goals against average (GAA) and a sensational .921 save percentage. That season he finished with an outstanding 20-10-5 record, while shutting out the opposing team three times.

To kick off the 2011-12 regular season, Reimer was off to a very similar start.

Through the Leafs' first five games, Reimer was 4-0-1 and when he was forced to leave the sixth game of the season in Montreal thanks to a Brian Gionta elbow to his head, he had a save percentage of .912 and GAA at about 2.60.

The departure of Francois Allaire and his seemingly outdated philosophy should also help James Reimer when he does take back the reigns in net from the youngster Ben Scrivens (who's having a nice 2013 season himself).

The other reason that the Leafs should still be able to make the postseason with the team that Brian Burke has assembled is the fact that they have a coach who's style should mesh with the current more than Ron Wilson's.

Big-bodied defensemen like Mike Komisarek and Cody Franson will be much more effective in a Randy Carlyle-type system of staying at home and being positionally sound, than in the run-and-gun Ron Wilson-type game.

While some people may believe this team is destined for another season without any playoff action, there is reason to believe that Toronto can make a run at the postseason with their current roster.