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Ulmer: What Do You Want To Be?

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Brian Burke says exactly what he thinks because he wants to.

I do it because I can’t stop myself.

We do share one core belief: if the Leafs win another Cup, the team photo could be minted on Canada’s $20 bill.

Burke and coach Ron Wilson believe the Leafs are only a player or two away.  Clearly, one of those players is the number one centre who could supercharge Phil Kessel, draw checkers away from the second line, reinvigorate the power play and allow the Leafs to control key draws all over the ice. The rest can be left to everyone else.

A slim list of candidates  - Jeff Carter, Brad Richards and Paul Stastny - has been put forward into the blogosphere but there is jawbreaker in the soup.

Rival general managers use the constant attention, even adoration of Leaf fans to attract players away from Toronto and towards their less hockey-centric climes.

“You don’t want to go there,” the GMs will say of Toronto.

“Too crazy.”

It will fall to Burke, therefore, to use his own brand of scouring diplomacy in wooing the remaining pieces. I’m guessing the conversation would go something like this…

“Bobby. Burkie here. Yeah, fine, thanks.

“Listen, Bobby. I want to talk to you about the trade clause. No, I know you don’t have a no-trade. You might say we have one.

“It takes a certain guy to play here and I need to know if you’re that kind of guy.

Let me explain this.

“Couple of years ago, we hung a camera over centre ice for fun as the ice painting was taking place. Yeah, just for fun we put it on the website. Thousands of people clicked on…to…watch…the…logo…painted. Really, thousands of them.

“I'll put this another way. Did you see the Royal Wedding?

"Yeah, me neither but I read the paper. You know that train, or whatever you call it hanging behind the bride. That’s seven years of not making the playoffs.

"We want to ditch the veil.

“Bobby this is the most unique opportunity you will ever get.

“If you help get us into the playoffs, people will name their pets after you. If you help get us into the finals, they’ll be a lot of Bobbys in first grade five years later.

“I am offering the chance to know, 60 years before the fact, what the opening line of your obit will be.

“No more page four stories in the sports section. No more teachers asking what you do at your kid’s career fair.

“Mostly, I need to know whether you are a part-time hockey player.

I need a guy who doesn’t mind being a player 24 hours a day. You see this movie Thor? Yeah, I need that guy. Not Spiderman in those stupid tights worrying about his aunt and his girlfriend. Thor.

"Knew you were going to ask about that.

"The media isn’t bad at all. Pretty fair. Certainly no worse than Boston, New York or Philly?

"Yeah, we had one guy who was a little goofy but we hired him away from the Toronto Sun and now he doesn’t bother us at all. All these reporters just means there is always someone to talk to you as you take your skates off after practice.

"And that’s without winning. Multiply everything tenfold when we win and Bobby, we are going to win. When? I don’t know. You know what, Bobby? It’s going to rain. I don’t know when, but I know it’s going to rain.

"Going to tell you a story. In the Summit Series – Frank Mahovlich played for Canada and Valeri Kharlamov was a star for Russia. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it should if you come here.

"Anyway, they are talking through an interpreter and Frank says to Val ‘come to Canada and I will make you a millionaire.’ And Kharlamov says to Frank ‘come to Russia and I will make you a king.’

"And that’s the bottom line Bobby. Which one do you do you want to be?

Every team has millionaires. I’m looking for one or two kings.”
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