They say you should walk into a room like you own the place. Clearly Brian Burke follows that maxim. Paying a visit to the Leafs TV Studios on Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager was garrulous and gruff as ever.
Whether you’re an acolyte of the man or skeptical about his defence-first philosophy, you have to appreciate his honesty and candid approach when talking to just about anyone about his plan to finally bring Lord Stanley back to Hogtown.
Speaking of the defence, Burke offered his thoughts on the logjam on the back end and said how happy he was to see that considering how in the past there’s been too much entitlement among his charges.
Competition for jobs entering training camp is clearly something Burke relishes and at this point he sees the six regular defencemen being the following in no particular order: Francois Beauchemin, Luke Schenn
, Mike Komisarek
, Garnet Exelby, Tomas Kaberle and Jeff Finger
. So that leaves Ian White, Jonas Frogren and MIke Van Ryn on the sidelines but again nothing’s written in stone and Burke has clearly given his coach Ron Wilson full autonomy on who will end up making the roster.
And making the defence a priority is simple arithmetic. Allowing 293 goals last season clearly horrified Burke and he feels that allowing one less goal a game which he feels the club is clearly capable of reaching would put the club fifth in goals against if you utilize last year’s numbers rather than being among the bottom five in the NHL.
And offensively, Burke is hoping for a balanced approach, even thinking Alexei Ponikarovsky could reach 30 goals with more ice time and experience under his belt and not ruling out the thought that Nazem Kadri
, the Leafs first overall draft pick, can make the club with his gumption and talent which he has plenty of.
Burke was clearly tired of the familiar refrain that MLSE and the Leafs only care about filling the pockets and couldn’t care less about winning. As he asked the rhetorical question, “if we make the playoffs, don’t we make a whole lot more money?”
Under his stewardship, the playoffs are at least within reach. And as Burke himself points out, he’s won a cup before so do you really wanna be the one to question his thought process or his resume? Much like the scene-stealing and seductive Cristoph Waltz in Quentin Tarantino’s latest cinematic adventure, when Burke’s on screen, it makes for great theatre.