Let us take a look at how the "Saviour" has done so far in his tenure as the Maple Leafs General Manager.
On November 29, 2008, MLSE signed Brian Burke to be their 13th GM in franchise history. Burke left Anaheim earlier the same season to be closer in proximity to his wife and children in the Boston area.
Now, after Burke arrived, the upper management group dynamic has shifted. Dave Nonis and his Vancouver connections was brought into Toronto to become the Assistant GM to Burke. Cliff Fletcher kept a position in an advisory role, and gives the franchise another pair of eyes.
Burke brought in the likes of NHLers Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Jeff Finger, Mike Komisarek, and Francois Beauchemin on the team.
In college scouting, him and his staff has attracted college free agents: Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, and Ben Scrivens from this Spring. Bozak and Hanson are becoming big pieces to the current Leafs roster. This college route to sign young college free agents is what Burkie has referred to as "finding a free wallet."
In the draft, Burke and Nonis have done well in 2008, drafting Luke Schenn 5th overall, Nazem Kadri 7th in 2009. Both should be in the lineup this October.
In the trade department, Burkie has been very busy. He dealt the likes of Nik Antropov, Dominic Moore, Alex Ponikarovsky, acquiring Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, J-S. Gigguere, and has not looked out of place at all.
In attracting key European free agents, Burke and Nonis successfully persuaded Jonas Gustavsson to come play for them. It is big, because 20-30 teams in the NHL were interested in bringing the Monster.
Behind the bench, Brian Burke kept Ron Wilson, who arrived in Toronto months before Burke, and their relationship have grown through this time. Coaching has not been an issue, as Wilson prepares this team to its full potential night after night.
I personally believe the Leafs are much better today than where they were on November 28, 2008---one day prior to Brian's arrival in TO. Now, we have to find out where and how the management group is able to set the tone for the 2010-2011 season with the biggest trade so far---Tomas Kaberle deal.
Giving you some of the words on Kaberle. It is very likely that Kaberle is dealt to the Western Conference despite the fact that Kaberle is rumoured to want to stay out East. Anaheim's Bob Murray knows Burke, and will do his due diligence in bringing Kaberle to the Ducks. San Jose Sharks let veteran D Rob Blake go into retirement, and they are missing a piece that can help quarterback their powerplay other than Dan Boyle's wizardry. Columbus Blue Jacket GM Scott Howson is also interested in adding a D that can play the point and lead their offensive attack. He said he wasn't done when he re-signed Anton Stralman, and I believe him. Vancouver Canucks have definitely made contact with Toronto about the possibility of Tomas Kaberle joining the club. Even though the Canucks defense looks set, they are still missing a Kaberle-type force on the blueline. Calgary Flames traded Dion Phaneuf, and Jay Bouwmeester is a bust. Word is that Robyn Regehr is available, so that may play a role in Brian Burke's decision Aug.15 or sooner. There is just countless teams in the West that can use the services of Kaberle. Don't count out Dallas Stars, who have forwards to spare, St.Louis, and Los Angeles. LA lost out on Kovalchuk, so they are desperate to improve their hockey club for that next level.
Interested to see if Brian Burke will officially become the Saviour of the Maple Leafs, but one thing is for sure. The Leafs are going to contend for a playoff spot for the first time in six seasons. Go Burkie Go.
Lastly, Brian Burke recently quoted to saying that he believes his recent changes to the team culture has cured them from "the blue and white disease." Let's hope the pandemic is a thing of the past.
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