Brian Burke is a genius!
He came in with an idea, but the idea that he tried to implement didn't always work out—i.e. John Tavares, however the Leafs have changed. They now look grittier, tougher to play against, and younger than ever before.
The mindset that most past Leafs players, like Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, etc., carried was of fame and fortune.
Let's get the facts straight. Being a Leaf has its benefits. You are treated like royalty here. The fanbase alone can drive a player off balance on a game night.
What Burkey did was bring in competition. He brought in young offensive players, increased the number of defensive players, and brought in the "monster" to challenge Toskala.
The players have a new mindset now, and that is to keep their jobs.
The Leafs went from a sore-losing team to something of a potential.
Let's not make any assumptions here. The Stanley Cup is a long shot. However, I wouldn't count the Leafs out. I think the 2009-2010 roster is going to give it all they've got before the season is over.
From what I saw last season, the Leafs never gave up. Well, that is an understatement, but in any case, they did fight to the finish in most of the games they played.
I believe it will be even tougher to play against the Leafs with the current roster.
Here is what I think the new roster would look like:
Line1: Blake, Grabovski, Hagman
Line2: Ponikarovsky, Kulemin, Stempniak or Nazem Kadri
Line 3: Bozak, Hanson, Stalberg
Line 4: Mayers, Matt Stajan, Mitchell or Nazem Kadri
Defence1: Kaberle, White
Defence2: Komisarek, Schenn
Defence3: Beauchemin, Garnet Exelby
Defence: Mike Van Ryn, injury prone
Goalies: Toskala, Gustavsson
Backup: Stralman, Colin Stuart, Colton Orr
Hopefully traded due to lack of progress from either player: Finger, Stajan