Burke Educates Toronto Fans

Mark GregoryContributor IIIAugust 17, 2010

TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Goaltender Curtis Joseph of the Toronto Maple Leafs wears a 'Leaf Fans #1' jersey in warm-ups prior to the start of the NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre on September 26, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images


First Burke added the word truculence to the vocabulary of Leaf Fans, and now he has educated all of Toronto what Thomas Kaberle is worth…..For anyone who questions the Kessel trade Burke made from Boston -just had to see the Bruins in the playoffs last year to realize the price Burke extracted from Boston, and there is only one reason that the Bruins didn’t advance further in the playoffs last year and that was lack of a top goal scorer.


In today’s NHL the complexity of winning or even competing for the Stanley cup is made up not just by which team has the most talent, but also by a large number of intangibles.  The timing has to be exact, that the team must peak at the exact time in the finals, before the salary cap implodes the top teams- which is exactly what happened to Chicago, and to a lesser extent the Flyers.


A team must have several top players tied up in cap friendly contracts, they must understand the nuisances of the economics of the NHL- will there be a glut or a shortage of players available, will the team get handcuffed by a couple of bad long term deals.


Look at the case of Boston –yes they acquired many good picks from TO, but maybe they have missed their window for competing for the Stanley Cup. With 2 virtually untradeable contracts in Savard and Thomas, and Chara up for free agency in the near future, perhaps it could be argued that when Burke acquired Kessel, what Boston gave up is a legitimate shot at the Stanley cup…that’s why it cost Burke 2 1st round picks and a second. The Bruins realized what they had lost and Burke realized what the Bruins had lost, and the fact of the matter that obtaining Kessel was a matter of bringing a top star to the best hockey market in the world. Before Kessel came- there was a giant void of top offensive talent in Leaf land which occurred as the result of Sundin leaving without Leafs getting a thing in return.


It seems a case of what have you done for me lately with Leaf fans as they were literally brought to a frenzy with just the thought of a major trade involving T Kaberle happening. With the D Phaneff trade and the Versteeg trade fresh on everyone’s minds, the thought of anything less than another miracle trade has brought forth a harsh tirade of vocal Toronto critics against Burke.


But for the record what is Kaberle worth? Burke was counting on a team like the Sharks thinking that with Blake retired and Kaberle in his contract year and with Thorton up for free agency next year that this might be the Sharks window and that Kaberle might be the missing piece that could bring them the illusive Stanley cup……


And we will never know if this will be the case or not, but


When Kaberle puts up great numbers this year (which top players are prone to do in their contract year) and Kaberles +/- leads the team(mainly because Toskala gone) and the Toronto team will be much better and deeper in talent than last year. And when the Sharks fall short in the playoffs again……..I think they will be kicking themselves that they didn’t pay Burkes price for a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup……..and this is the reality of the contemporary NHL .


Burke realized Dominic Moores price on the free market and was willing to pay far more than he eventually signed for. Same with the Sweatt situation. With a glut of players unsigned, he will probably get a contract somewhere else, but he will sign for far less than the Leafs offered and with probably much less an opportunity to make an NHL team in the near future than he gave up when he didn't snap up Burke's offer to play for the Leafs……


Sweatt counted on using the Leaf offer to leverage a higher salary from his favorite team when he became a free agent, but Burke easily saw through this ploy and withdrew his offer and quickly signed Marcel Mueller, who really better exemplifies a Burke style player any way.


Last year I was lambasting the leafs for continuing to play Toskala, even though it was completely destroying the Leaf team….perhaps Toskala understood better than anyone that he was on the trade block, which might explain how a competent goalie, could all of a sudden play with such utter incompetence.


Everyone was screaming for Burke to send Blake down to the minors, yet Wilson persevered and the Leafs actually not only dumped their contracts but received assets in return…….this patience and understanding of the nuisances of the NHL resulted in a destroyed Leaf season last year, but in this destruction and desolation of finishing second last in the league is the ashes the Leafs will rise from and this year the team will reap the rewards.


How many Leaf fans were combing the NHL rosters assessing all the different trade combinations, assessing the different rosters of each team, assessing each teams needs and talent in their respective farm systems- all in the off season......Burke has really put on a hockey education tutorial for long suffering Leaf fans who still remember Bobby Baun and what defense and dedication mean to a successful team. If I say Leaf fans are now the most educated hockey fans in the world, would it be an exaggeration?


 Thomas Kaberle will show us his value to the Toronto Maple leafs and why Burke didn't give him up for futures, because not having Thomas Kaberle this year might very well be the difference between the leafs making or not making the playoffs this year......this is the value of Thomas Kaberle......Thanks for the education Mr Burke, from a loyal leaf fan,who appreciates your patience when I had lost mine.......and now for the first time in a long time I'm sensing a new sensation.....victory in the playoffs for the Toronto Maple Leafs.