Maple Leafs' Brian Burke: Why He's Possibly the Worst GM in the NHL, Part Two
Brian Burke. Yes again.
One of my first articles on Bleacher Report featured the one and only Brian Burke. Why BB? Because he was dismantling the Toronto Maple Leafs day after day and he has been doing exactly that to this day.
I promised myself that I would not do a part two until the All-Star break, a little more than 41 games into the season. I expected the Leafs to be in the same position as they were at the end of last season—dead last or close to that. The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in 26th place in the NHL.
What makes Brian Burke the worst GM in the NHL is that he is doing the exact opposite of what a team that is a perennial loser should be doing. He is not staying the course. He is not playing the youth. He takes gambles season after season and they have not paid off at all.
One of the bigger points of my argument in the first article of this series (yes I will continue to criticize Burke) was that the trade to bring Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs ultimately destroyed the Maple Leafs's future as we know it. Brian Burke made the trade expecting Phil Kessel to carry the team out of the cellar on his back. Phil Kessel hasn't done anything close to that and Burke lost the second overall pick last year which turned out to be Tyler Seguin, a highly touted center who has performed well at the NHL level considering he is an 18-year-old on a deep Boston Bruins team.
In 117 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phil Kessel has scored 49 goals and 88 points. That puts Kessel at 0.75 points per game and 0.42 goals per game with the Leafs organization. Good numbers, but not good enough to gamble away the future. Burke knew this too. In his previous seasons with the Bruins, Kessel scored no more than 60 points and never played a full season. He was never worth two high first round picks (which anyone could have told you would be top-five picks) and two second round picks.
Now the average Toronto Maple Leaf fan will either be seething with anger or laughing at this article out of insecurity. They will point out that Tyler Seguin only has 16 points in 46 games. They will point out that Kessel has more points. They will point out anything they want to see, but not everything. Tyler Seguin is a complete player. There is no arguing against that. He is overflowing with intangibles and is oozing with skill. Ever since Phil Kessel was drafted, I always thought he was one dimensional and that's it, he is extremely one dimensional and that is why the Leafs will go nowhere under the lead of Burke/Kessel.
If the Maple Leafs stayed the course, they would have added a strong prospect under Tyler Seguin who would undoubtedly have more points on a Maple Leafs team that lacks depth. He would get top playing time and would be playing much better right now. Maple Leafs fans won't believe this, but it is very hard not to believe this as a hockey fan. Many ignorant fans will thrash this theory and I don't blame them as I would also try to find someone to take my anger out on. Years of mediocrity are ahead for the Maple Leafs as they are giving up another top-five pick this year.
Now a Maple Leafs fan would bring up that Burke has done some good for the franchise. He did bring in Dion Phaneuf for a modest package after all. What has Phaneuf done again? He has one goal and 10 points in 31 games. He is definitely not living up to his salary and does not belong on a rebuilding team like the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs should have stayed the course and kept Matt Stajan and Ian White, two solid players that a rebuilding team like the Maple Leafs could use.
Phaneuf will be misused on the Leafs. The Leafs will not make the playoffs for years and Phaneuf will be older with years wasted on a dying team. Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs "faithful" want the best and usually they get the best or so they think so. They want all the stars. All the flashy players. However, they don't need those players. They don't need any star talents right now. They need to stay the course.
Brian Burke's management style has been stale at best and I will end this article analyzing a trade seen as a steal by literally every Maple Leaf fan. The Kris Versteeg trade, in my opinion, was great at first glance. However, as the season progressed and as I began to reflect on the trade, I noticed the trade was very similar to the Phaneuf trade. The Maple Leafs pulled the trigger on another star, a Stanley Cup winner.
Burke added another player that will waste his career waiting just like Leafs fans for a playoff berth nevermind a Stanley Cup. They looked to add to their group of stars that weren't good enough to carry a team to even a playoff berth. Instead of growing a core they looked to add to their makeshift core with outside players. Clashing styles of play and attitudes do not make a team.
Burke looks to add players that provided flash and stardom (even as small a star as Kris Versteeg) to the lineup, to provide a mask, actually a persona, that hides who the Leafs really are. The Leafs need an identity and Burke's constant tinkering is making the path to a playoff berth longer and longer everyday. While Burke's group of one dimensional stars waste their NHL careers rotting in Toronto, he will continue to rinse and repeat in Toronto until he either loses his job or until he finally make the playoffs and loses in the first round.
An Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting difficult results. Burke fits the bill of the insane, and this rinse and repeat method that countless NHL fans have seen fail in various NHL organizations mainly the Toronto Maple Leafs makes him possibly the worst GM in the NHL.
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