New Leafs By Next Week?
Crazy to think Brian Burke could be running the show with the Maple Leafs by this time next week.
This thing's going to move very, very quickly, and Burke has made no bones about the fact he intends to not take even a single day off. He wants to get started on his next job immediately.
Two things we know, or at least most sensible people know.
One, Burke is the best man available to do the job. If not the best man period, he is available. Hockey isn't like the real world in which you can just go out and hire who you want. It's an industry filled with tampering rules, and one in which the best executives in the game shake loose only occasionally, and never in large numbers.
Two, there's no guarantee Burke will be successful in Toronto, at least if you define success as winning a Stanley Cup, not putting together three victories in a row in mid-December.
The same would be the case if it was Ken Holland or Doug Wilson or Jim Rutherford getting the job. No guarantees of ultimate success.
Burke might not be able to do any more with the Leafs than he was able to do with the Vancouver Canucks, which was assemble a good team that wilted in the spring.
But let's get one thing straight. He was very much the architect of the championship won in Anaheim.
It drives me nuts the number of people who have emailed and, in effect, stripped Burke of any credit for the Ducks winning it all. That argument suggests that Bryan Murray did all the legwork, that Jean-Sebastien Giguere was already there and both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry had already been drafted.
It is an argument for utter morons.
Folks, every manager builds on what was done before. Well, every manager except Lou Lamoriello, who's been running the show in Jersey so long that every decision over the past 20 years has his fingerprints all over it.
But in Anaheim, Burke surely built on what Murray had established. He pulled it all together, hired Randy Carlyle to coach,brought in Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin for the back end and gave the teams it's rough-and-tumble personality.
Every success story in the league has its roots in what was done before. Even now, as Cliff Fletcher is getting all kinds of kudos for putting together a team that can almost win half its games, you'd have to give John Ferguson some credit for signing Nik Antropov, trading for Vesa Toskala and drafting Nikolai Kulemin. In San Jose, where the Sharks have the best record in hockey, some very good things were done before Wilson arrived as GM in 2003.
Its the same story everywhere. So while you might not endorse the choice of Burke as the next Leaf GM or like his preferred style of hockey, its just silly to try and rob him of any credit for what was done in Anaheim.
Can he win in Toronto? Don't know. The guess here is he can give this team a vibrant identity and make it into a solid playoff team in three years. Beyond that, who knows? He'll get his shot, and if he can't do it in five or six or seven years, somebody else will get their shot.