Archive for January, 2013

The Crown Jewel in a Fallen Kingdom

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Sports

I want to pretend that the 2012-13 NHL season is not happening. It hasn’t even started and I want it to just go away. It’s like the line “Nothing good can come of this…” that you hear in a bad action movie but being applied to the sport I love. The lockout has soured me and the team I cheer for twisted the dagger that was already in my heart: the Toronto Maple Leafs and the firing of Brian Burke.

I can understand why they fired him: an overall record of 125-135-42, zero playoff appearances (in fact, the Leafs are the only team since the LAST lockout to not have made the playoffs. Even the Islanders, THE *BLEEPING* ISLANDERS, have made it once!), going through 10 goalies in 4 years (the one position where Brian, like a lot of hockey mind believe, you have to have a cornerstone player in place in order to win) all add up to a dismissal. But there’s still something about this that leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Brian had this amazing ability to sell you on any move he made when it first happened (the only questionable trade would have been the Kessel for 2 first round draft picks because there’s all kinds of questions about Phil as a player…even though he averaged a point per game last season). You never questioned any of Burke’s moves at first (“We got Gigguere for that siv Toskala and Jason Blake?? YES!!”…“Whoa! Dion Phaneuf from Calgary for a line of AHL-ers? AMAZING!”… “The best goalie out of Sweden??We’ll groom him under the best goalie coach and he’ll be the next Terry Sawchuk!!”).

But then, somehow, the wheels all fell off and the Leafs missed playoffs after playoffs and if you followed the team closely there were a LOT of issues in the change room (as reported by the media through “sources”, of course). There are rumours and theories about why he was let go when he was: Was it because of the new Bell boss George Cope didn’t like him and played the brain trust to his advantage? Was it a combination of his attitude towards the media and record? Or was it because he didn’t want to pull the trigger on a trade for Roberto Luongo from Vancouver and give up too much on the future of the club for a contract that lasts longer than an 18 year old on Viagra? (After watching this team make bad move after bad move, the last one seems to be the most logical and most likely to happen.)

It’s weird to think that with all the moves that didn’t pan out and the bad seasons, Brian Burke will be missed. No other GM for the Leafs put himself out there to be a public figure (which caused a lot of backlash from the community at times) for either those in the armed forces, those in the homosexual community, even just playing the corporate card (no joke, I organized a bachelor party for my buddy Adam and specifically made reservations at Real Sports in Toronto just so I could say I had a “Burkie Dog”. MLSE had a series of hot dogs just for Brian Burke and the pulled pork one was amazing!) and would defend his players like Burke. I’m going to miss his surly demeanour, how his top shirt button was never done up and the Windsor knot slightly loosened, and how at any minute he would give the most straight forward and blunt answer possible. “Not my problem anymore” was probably the most uttered phrase during his last press conference, but nothing will beat the exchange with Sun Media journalist Steve Simmons. If this was a battle, Brian would’ve dropped the mic and walked off stage(…actually, the conference should’ve ended with that.)