Friday, November 28, 2008

Brian Burke in Toronto

Brian Burke is soon going to confirm what we all have known/speculated over the past year or so - he is ending up with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Burke in Toronto.. hmm... just seems so perfect, but is it really. Let us analyze what the next six years will be like in Toronto under Brian Burke's reign of chaos.

5 Reasons why Burke will succeed in Toronto:

1. He is a loudmouth GM that will do anything to stick up for his players. I'll always remember during the Canucks playoff runs he will step up to the mic after the game and start his rant on the refs making lousy calls and defending the Sedins - "Todd bertuzzi does not play for detroit" -
"Sedin, is not english for punch me or headlock me in a scrum." The thing with Brian Burke is when he is in charge, you know he's in charge of the team. He is one person you know that is not going to take crap from anyone up at MLSE.

2. Ron Wilson. Burke lucked out with the Ron Wilson hiring. He is someone who Brian Burke is comfortable with and many would argue that the Leafs hired Wilson to entice Burke. Imagine if he had a coach he didn't want, let's say, Paul Maurice. He will give Maurice 1-2 years to see how he does, but once the team goes sour, he'll be fired. This leaves Burke and his new coaching staff with only 3-4 years to turn around a dismal team.

3. There is nowhere to go but up for Toronto. Although everyone there thinks he's a saint that will revive the Leafs organization, this just puts the bar a bit higher for him. What constitutes as success? Making the playoffs? Stanley Cup? A competitive, 4th/5th place team? He has plenty of time to try and retry a successful formula in six years. If success means improving on the past couple of years, I think he will have success there.

4. He will definitely bring the centre of attention back to Toronto. The hockey capital of the world if not going to win the Stanley Cup, they will definitely be the loudest franchise in the world. With bold moves and constant media attention, the Leafs will be in media outlets around North America and especially Canada even if we don't like it.

5. Finally, who else would be more perfect or suited for this position - Scotty Bowman? Lou Lamoriello? Although they are valiant candidates, they don't have the charisma and attitude that Burke has. Who knows if on a managing and constructing a team point of view if Burke is more qualified than Bowman or Lamoriello, but for a thick skin and daily encounters with the Toronto media, Burke is the man.

- Keep in mind I didn't put his great GMing skills as one of the reasons for success in Toronto. Mostly his success in Toronto has to do with his personality as I am still a little skeptical on his construction of a team. He did do a great job in Vancouver, but what was left of the team when he left was pretty bad.

Summing it up
Now it is up to Burke and see what he does with this franchise for the next six years. This will make or break his career and legacy in career imo. If the Stanley Cup ultimately lands in Toronto before 2014, Burke will go down in history as the best GM and hockey person in NHL history. On the contrary, if the team is still battling for playoff spots and contemplating rebuilding year after year, Burke might very well be crucified in Toronto. John Ferguson Jr. had his escape route ready with being a first time GM and inexperience playing a part in the failure. Burke will have no such excuses for failure. Starting December 2008, the hockey landscape will change with Burke in Toronto.