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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brian Burke's Corruption Causes Leafs to Miss the Playoffs Again

Brian Burke considers himself a mastermind when it comes to operating a hockey team but if that was actually the case the Leafs would not be out of the playoffs again. This is the fourth brutal year for Burke as President and General Manager of the organization and it will be a great relief to Leaf fans and the players when his six-year contract runs out in 2014—or, with a lot of luck he will be fired before that time. If Burke wasn’t incompetent and biased the fans wouldn’t hate him so much.  

Burke Biased — Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson joined the Leafs as head coach in 2008 and shortly afterwards his college friend Brian Burke was hired by the Leafs as President and General Manager. Wilson’s contract was for four years, thus expiring in 2012.

Despite the Leafs struggling over the previous three years, and somewhat into the first 25 games of this year, Burke spoke to Wilson this past November about a contract extension. Three or four weeks later Wilson decided to play a little game by stating via Twitter that he wanted a new contract for Christmas, and two days later he declared that he had been given an extension. I guess he was hoping that the fans wouldn’t be so angry around

Christmas time? Wilson’s four-year contract was reported as being worth $5.6 million dollars plus incentives, and therefore a one-year extension was worth about 1.4 million.

Burke declared that Wilson had “earned the extension” and that it was “not a gift,” but who did Burke think he was fooling by saying that? He was doing his friend a favor, a friend who had done nothing to turn the team around. Come on, the Leafs were only 25 games into this season when the extension was granted, and therefore the team was a long, long way away from securing a playoff spot! The Leafs play started to decline bit by bit and then in February they went on a skid and their record in last ten games under Wilson’s command was a brutal 1-8-1. The fans were calling for Wilson to be fired, and Burke, to save his own job, decided to go ahead and fire Wilson on March 2nd, 2012.

Burke’s statement that Wilson’s contract extension was “not a gift” but that it was “earned” was replaced by Burke after the firing when he declared to media that “It was time” and “Every coach has a shelf life.” Burke had said what he thought would be best accepted by the media and fans, but the fact of the matter is that Burke had abused his position and was grossly negligent by giving away 1.4 million to his friend before anything had been accomplished. The Leafs organization will have to pay Wilson the 1.4 million next year—now that is “a gift!” If Burke was a knowledgeable and responsbile manager that extension would never have been granted unless the Leafs had made the playoffs and had advanced two rounds, since, Wilson had not changed the team in the previous years. 

As you know, Burke hired Randy Carlyle, his friend from the Anaheim Ducks who had been relieved of his head coaching position on November 30, 2011 due to extremely poor play by the team. Carlyle had coached the team since 2005 and Burke was the GM of the Ducks when the team won the Cup in 2007. On March 3rd Carlyle would begin his coaching career with the Leafs as they visited Montreal to take on the Canadiens.

The Leafs came out with a 3-1 victory in a very hard-fought game. Though the team played tougher for a short time they have collapsed somewhat once again and will not make the playoffs as most of us expected.

Burke is ultimately at fault for the Leafs inability to improve over the last four years since he has done poorly in trades and with his draft choices. Furthermore……see below.

Burke Biased — American Players

Burke was born in Providence, Rhode Island and was raised in Minnesota. As President and GM of the Leafs he has decided to employ as many American players as he can. I previously spoke about this in my article entitled “Don Cherry and Burke — More Fuel Added to the Fire” and shall now quote the better part of that aritcle because it really exposes Burke for who he is.  

I quote:

Cherry Blasts Burke On Coaches Corner About American Players on the Leafs

In the March 3, 2012 episode of Coach’s Corner, Cherry decided to publicly pull down Burke’s pants by exposing him for purposely acquiring and playing many American players. To be more specific, Cherry pointed-out that every team in the NHL has at least one player from Ontario except Burke’s Leafs, who, are located in Ontario! Furthermore, Cherry stated that the Penguins have six players from Ontario, that the Blackhawks had seven when they won the Cup, that the Bruins had seven last year and nine this year, and that the Blues currently have nine players from Ontario. I did a little research on my own and found that the Leafs have more American players than any other Canadian team. It is good to have people from different countries on a team but every team (American or Canadian) should have a respectable number of players who represent the country in which they are located. The fans like to be able to cheer for a home-province, home-state, or home-town guy. Look at the Minnesota Wild, they obtained Tom Gilbert from the Oilers prior to the trade deadline and Gilbert grew up about 20 minutes from the Xcel Energy Center where the Wild play. Boston acquired Matt Mottau from the Islanders and he was born and raised in Quincy, just outside of Boston. I could state many other examples but the point is that Burke should have significantly more Canadian players on his team, and, defnitely some from Ontario. The fans are funding the team! 

In support of Burke’s purposeful acquiring of American players, on the Maple Leafs website it says, 

“Burke is on the U.S. National Team Advisory Committee that is charged with leading the selection of players for the U.S. Men’s National Team that competed at the 2011 World Championships in Slovakia. As well, Burke was the General Manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, which won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. In 1993, 2009 and 2010, Burke was the General Manager of the U.S. World Championships teams. On August 7, 2008, Burke was recognized for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States when he was named the recipient of the 2008 Lester Patrick Award.”

Sounds like a guy who really wants to do the best for his country, and that includes stocking the Leafs with American players. When Burke is eventually fired from his position he will likely go back to the US and boast about how many American players he had playing for him right in Ontario.

I definitely don’t have anything against American players but every GM of Canadian teams should make sure that they have more Canadians than any other group of players, and every GM of American teams should make a point of having a good number of Americans on their teams. The fans want this and they are funding the sport.

End of quote. 

Leafs Future

Unfortunately, due to Brian Burke and Ron Wilson the Leafs are going to miss the playoffs once again. Burke has done nothing to please the fans in Toronto and they can’t even cheer for a home-province boy! It is amazing that the fans still go to the games. It will be interesting to see what transpires next year under Randy Carlyle, but I believe that any long-term significant improvement can only be achieved by bringing in some new players. The Leafs need some good draft picks this year and they should make a couple of trades. Too bad they won’t find anyone interested in Phaneuf and his salary.

TJ Stanley