Brian Burke has become the Toronto hockey media’s favourite pick for the next GM of the Leafs and for the most part he has been heralded by the Toronto media as one of the best GMs in hockey and the kind of GM the Leafs desperately need. But what if Burke was GM of the Leafs. Would Burke get the same recognition?
If hypothetical Leafs GM Burke signed Todd Bertuzzi to a two year $8 million deal, only to buy him out the following off season, would the Toronto media herald Burke as one of the greatest GMs in hockey?
If hypothetical Leafs GM Burke signed Mathieu Schneider to a two year $11.25 million deal and just to put him on waivers the following summer hoping someone would claim him, would the Toronto media herald Burke as one of the greatest GMs in hockey?
Of course not. The deals to Bertuzzi and Schneider are actually far worse than the monetary cost to the team. These deals essentially cost the Ducks team a talented player in Andy McDonald because Burke was forced to trade McDonald to clear salary space. If Burke made such moves while GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs he would be criticized beyond belief. But he isn’t GM of the Leafs so the Toronto hockey media are still in love with him.
If you then factor in that Burke chose to sign Bertuzzi instead of signing a young power forward capable of scoring 25 goals while playing a solid two-way physical game named Dustin Penner and you have to ask yourself, why does everyone think Burke is such a great GM.
If you go back to his Vancouver days he never was able to acquire the goaltender the team desperately needed to seriously challenge for the Stanley Cup and his draft record was mixed at best.
He did win the Stanley Cup in 2007 in large part by his bold move to sign Niedermayer and trade for Pronger but the core of the forward crew was there before Burke arrived.
If Burke were the GM of the Leafs having put Schneider on waivers desperately hoping someone will claim him, my guess is that there would be more than a few in the Toronto media calling for Burke’s firing.
It is always greener on the other side of the fence.