Thursday, December 9, 2010

GM and Coach: Who picks 'em

I have to think that Brian Burke, the man that assembled the famous West Coast Express in Vancouver and went on to win a cup in Anaheim would be able to build a decent team even if it is in Toronto, but the job done thus far is far from acceptable to Leafs Nation, or anybody with a basic understanding of the game.

By all rights the Kessel trade was debatable.  Who knew the Leafs would fail miserably last season and the first of two first round pics Burke surrendered to Boston would be the second over all selection...besides everybody else outside of Toronto that is.  Even if it was the 30th pick in the first round it doesn't matter.  Kessels play has since settled that argument, it wasn't worth it, at the time it's is excusable.

What isn't is the string of other moves Burke has made and you have to wonder how much he is involving his coach Ron Wilson in the selection process because either Wilson can't get this team to compete and he needs to go, or Burke can't pick a player (or six) and he needs to go.  In my opinion they both do.

Burke built a great defense, that has underperformed, largely because only one of them is sufficiently capable of headmanning the puck. He brought in a Conn Smythe winner and a promising prospect in net.  Giguere is oft injured and showing his age while The Monster, who is actually a very average sized goaltender, is not getting the job done.  Funny, Toronto has a history of bad trades with Boston; I wonder how much Peter Chiarelli would ask from Burke to give hime back Tuukka Rask?  Burke overpaid for for a grinding winger in Colby Armstrong, and Kris Versteeg is a good player when he plays with good players, not the type to make a mark on his teammates, positively at least. And, he gave up a promising prospect in Viktor Stalberg to get it. Some of the moves haven't panned out, some were just bad, but even if it did work Burke did it all backward.  He's got good depth forwards, great physical D and potentially NHL calibre goaltending, however, he has no centre, and great teams have centres:

Chicago: Toews, Sharp and Bolland
Vancouver: Henrik Sedin, Kessler and Malhotra
Pittsburgh: Crosby, Malkin, Staal
Boston: Take your pick

Of course the measuring stick for success for Toronto GM's isn't much.  All you have to do to be better than the last guy is not pay a former healthy scratch 4 million/season, sounds easy right?  Arguably Burke inerited great teams in Vancouver and Anaheim and it's looking now like that he shoplifted a cup ring in California. But Burke's plan to build a winner now has set the Leafs back farther than they ever were.  They are two centres away from a potential playoff contender, but they've been two seasons trying to find the lynch pin to the whole team, and it isn't showing up.  Clock is ticking Brian.

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