Tag Archives: Brian Burke

Time For A Change In The Morning

I am going to go out on a limb here folks. It is time Nelson Millman to make a change to his morning show over at the Fan 590. I don’t want to call for someone to lose (not loose) their job, but the morning show is just stale. Why do I bring this up today, well, Don Landry was out ill today and Damien filled in for Landry. It was the best morning show they have had in ages. Let me be clear, I don’t know Don Landry from Adam. To quote Pat Burns, “I wouldn’t know him if I hit him with my car.” I don’t dislike him personally, nor the work he does. However, if ever there was a guy suited for a mid day slot it would be him. He can be funny, he likes to do more shtick then substance and I am sure he has a ton of loyal followers. He just isn’t a sports guy. This is a time slot the Fan has all to their own and to be honest most mornings I punt to 550 or god forbid music. If I am not getting sports at 590, there is no reason to listen. Nelson needs to find a replacement for Landry during that show and move Landry to an hour where his talents will be more appreciated. I can’t see the ratings for this show getting any better then they are right now. The show has peaked and I predict will decline until a change is made.

Damien was fantastic this am with Gord. They have amazing chemistry and man, they spent time actually talking about what their sports guests earlier in the am had to say. Damien was saying how he thought wht Burke was doing with Pogge was the right move, that it was part of a plan. He said he disagreed with Scotty’s take from earlier in the am which was great in that I didn’t get to hear all of it. There was a lot less hijinx then there usually is and a bigger focus on sports. Again, for some reason I think Damien’s column has suffered greatly as a result of the other things he does. He is better in his blog and is better then that on the radio. Watching him faceoff against Simmons on Sunday’s is pretty interesting too. In his column he rarely says why leaf fans should be happy that Cliff is gone. It sounds like a personal vendetta, and more so every time he says it isn’t. This morning he actually put some meat on the bones saying that if Cliff were still in charge we would have seen more deals like the one Cliff made for Lee Stempniak, trading away 2 guys who at the very least should have been given a shot with the Marlies to work our their careers. Damien guaranteed that Cliff was going to do everything in his power to get the team to the playoffs this season and deals like that were evidence of such. Now, I have no clue whether that is true or not. Damien also wrote that Doug Gilmour was paying for his players to be at the ACC this Saturday and we have since learned otherwise. At least it makes for interesting radio. It is certainly better then another bit of Ken Dryden in the house of commons! Good on Damien for mixing it up a bit, making it interesting etc.

I would like to see the Fan 590 think outside the box a bit more. In many major cities I have lived in the morning show and the drive home show feature a radio guy and a print guy as permanent hosts. The radio guy is always there (except for vacations) and the print guy is sometimes a little late, sometimes on the road or sometimes absent. They have good chemistry and create a good product. Now Brunt is a part timer on the Fan, not full time with McCown. While I love Brunt’s work, I think he comes across as being to cerebral for radio in this town. He is certainly better then some of the other guys though. I would love for the Fan to find a way to get Damien or someone like him in there with Stellick. Maclean would be a better fit to be honest. One of the problems I think is that we don’t have a huge bullpen of talent (at least known) in this market. It’s not like there are 5-10 guys on other shows who you say, man they would be awesome on the Fan. With the exception of Brady on 640 (and I think he would be terrific with Stellick, but can’t see that happening anytime soon), I really can’t think of anyone. Now Brady came from Detroit and there are probably a lot of folks in the industry looking for work in other markets. I think Nelson really should make a change, move Landry to the mid-day and bring in someone else to work with Stellick. This morning was a tease.

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Burke To Take a Shot At the Playoffs?

It’s interesting, Burke has been on the job for about a couple of months now and well, nothing has changed. That isn’t a bad thing, it is what it is. If you look at what he is saying these days, it is the exact same thing he said in his press conference. I am not sure if some folks expected him to buckle under pressure, but the reality is- he isn’t going to.

““The biggest thing I see is this team lacks an identity,” Burke said. “We’re not a big offensive machine. We’ve been shut out at home twice and that shouldn’t happen. We need to get an identity, whether that’s a bigger, more physical team or a team that is better on special teams. “But I’m not discouraged at all. We have a good group. We don’t quit. They listen to the coaches. We just have to upgrade our talent.”

No, this isn’t a direct quote from his press conference when he got hired. This is from an article that just hit the net on Globe Sports.com.

“What we have is what the fans can see. We have the capacity to be a good hockey team, but the biggest simple problem is we’re not consistent at all, not only from game to game, but also from period to period.”

Again, he has been saying this since day one. Not a criticism, rather an observation.

“When I talk about having a hard-nosed team, I want to make it clear that I love skill, first and foremost,” he said. “If you look at the teams I had in Vancouver, we had a ton of skill and a lot of hard-hat guys.
“I draw a line right through the top six [forwards] and bottom six. The bottom six guys have to bring a pick and a shovel to work. They have to do the penalty killing, block the shots, they have to win the fights and deliver the bodychecks. The top six have to put the points up on the scoreboard. “We have a lot of work to do. There are a bunch of holes on this team. The one motto I have with my players is: no complaints, no excuses. I’m not going to complain.“I don’t have this and I don’t have that. We’ll get things fixed here, but it will take some time.”

It’s almost funny to read this stuff so long after he was hired. It is the exact same thing. I guess one could ask, well, you said all this when you started, you sound like a broken record. The truth is we fans know it and well….yawn

““If we get into a position to add a player to help us make the playoffs, we’re going to do it,” Burke said. “But we haven’t been presented with that. What we have been presented with are deals that will weaken us. If you’re going to make a deal like that, it has to be closer to [the trade deadline] when the value is higher and your fans can see the blue print and understand it. “But if I can make a trade today that will help us get into the playoffs, I would do it.”

To quote Paul Maurice, breath, people breath. What is he supposed to say here? No, I have no interest in being competitive? He hasn’t said I will mortgage the future. He has said what a GM should say. Don’t panic leaf fans. He isn’t gong to do what others have tried to do in the past, I don’t see another Yanick Perrault coming. I don’t think he is going to trade a number one pick for Tom Kurvers. What he means is that f he can trade for a guy who can strengthen the team he will do it as long as the deal makes sense. He isn’t going to trade the future just to make the playoffs. That isn’t what he said here, so no, not time to panic yet.

“They are not going to be 25-year-old guys, they are going to be 28 or 29-year-old guys. Whether Toronto is an attractive destination yet for those guys remains to be seen. It’s still too early to know. I know in the past, to get those players to come to Toronto, the team has given no-trade clauses to entice those players, but I don’t like no-trade clauses. So we’ll see what happens on July 1. We intend to be ready. We have cap space and money to spend.”

With Burke here, and Wilson in tow and a whack of dough, they will have the ammunition they need. You can bet the plan is already in the works… I don’t think we need to worry. The message hasn’t changed and I don’t think the strategy has either. Some times you have to say the right things because to do otherwise would look ridiculous.

You can read the Globe article here

Jay Bouwmeester A Maple Leaf?

“The Panthers are looking a trade possibilities and hoping to get a first round pick, another top selection and a top, NHL -ready prospect if they move Bouwmeester. The Leafs don’t have the wherewithal to put that kind of package today, although its believed GM Brian Burke might be willing to part with the team’s first rounder this summer if he could first negotiate a long-term deal with Bouwmeester.” Damien Cox

Now you are starting to enter the realm of hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… Bouwmeester will be 26 in September. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. This is an old fashioned game of poker. Let’s assume for one second that he isn’t going to resign in Florida. He has NEVER played a playoff game since being drafted. Also, if he is going to resign, this debate is over. If he isn’t going to resign, why would he agree to re-up with anyone until the free agency period begins. Jay Bo is a westerner, so I guess if Calgary came a knocking he may re-up early. Other then that why bother? So the question becomes do you take the chance. The answer is NO. If you can’t resign him you don’t make the deal. That’s easy. Then the question is, do you assume whomever he gets traded to he will re-up with? If the answer is yes, then if you want him……you have to trade for him. Not an easy decision. It’s easy to SAY we won’t trade for him without talking to him about re-upping. What do you do in that game of poker???

“Barring that, if Bouwmeester gets to unrestricted free agent status, you can expect the Leafs to be at the front of the line of teams vying for his services. Interestingly, the Leafs would be well-positioned given that they currently operate almost $10 million below the salary cap. There’s a threat the $56.7 million cap could drop significantly after next season, leaving teams with fewer salary committments – like the Leafs – potentially in a position to have far more flexibility over the next two years. Even if Bouwmeester is traded before the March 4 deadline, he might still become unrestricted July 1st, as was the case with Marian Hossa.”

This could be the hardest decision to face Burke. Bouwmeester is the type of player you build around. Him and Schenn would make for a pretty solid base for a defence core. If the Leafs are 2-3 years from the playoffs you have to wonder why he would agree to come here (granted they would say with him maybe it’s not that long)…..

So Leaf fans, you are Burke…If you can’t talk to him or guarantee you can resign him, do you roll the dice that he becomes an UFA or the other way and pull the trigger. If you deal for him (a number one plus anything) and he doesn’t resign you are toast!….What do you think?

Maple Leafs, Raptors Era Of Hope, Blue Jays? Not So Much

Once again the original ideas are clearly sparse these days. As one loyal reader wrote me an email “is it me or is Damien on auto-pilot”. In any event, Dave Perkins took Jeff Blair’s Toronto The Bad story and raised it with a feel good spin:

“The Maple Leafs have hit the all-star break losing 11 of 14 games, the Raptors have dived straight into the tank and, with pitchers and catchers on the horizon, the Blue Jays seem to have already surrendered their season, publicly managing expectations downward the way the Maple Leafs did so successfully last fall.”

9 am, who is ready for a drink?

“So, what to do? Not much except wait it all out and believe that this time, pain will bring gain. In the case of the Leafs, most fans expected this kind of situation and many wished for it; blowing it up is the best way to start over again.Raptor people would feel differently. This team began the season with reasonable expectations, but fell apart terribly. A flurry now and a finish from seven through 11 in the conference would put them into that wheel-spinning ground the Leafs inhabited for so many years; if you can’t be good, be really bad and start building again with a nice draft pick.”

No, I swear I didn’t write the piece. Perkins is right on though….

“The good news for the Raps is that it’s a shorter road back in the NBA and Bryan Colangelo still is a smart guy, even though he’s now on an extended hitless steak. If he can trade Jermaine O’Neal for a large expiring contract, they would have money to spend in the off-season. A 2009-10 team with Chris Bosh, a healthy Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, a lottery pick and a decent free agent, along with the usual spare parts, isn’t so bad. Things can change quickly in the NBA – in either direction.The Leafs, in the big picture, are actually having what sensible people would call a successful season. They’re losing with effort, most nights at least playing decent games while dropping points. As new GM Brian Burke undertakes what a friend calls “a de-Communization” of his team, they are inching toward the bottom and the subsequent potential draft bonanza.”

Ding ding ding ding…give the man a prize. As I have said before, this common sense thing, it’s really not that hard. this isn’t rocket science. “They are losing with effort, most nights at least playing decent games while dropping points” yes, I did just repost that. That is what we want them to do. Raise your hand which team you prefer, the Muskoka five effortless group of last year, or this years group???? This is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.

“The Islanders are in control of the John Tavares Sweepstakes, but the Leafs are only three points out of 29th place and who knows how the ping-pong balls will bounce? If both Tampa Bay and Ottawa make little runs, the Leafs will benefit. They potentially have chips to play with at the trade deadline. If either or both of Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky get rolling, they could depart for a taste of future. Jason Blake, who has been playing with interest lately, has three more years on his contract, but is looking as if he could help somebody else. He doesn’t have a no-trade contract.”

The Obama factor…The most dangerous word in the English language is HOPE…Perkins is using it now. We don’t mind the losing (not loosing) if there is HOPE! “A Taste of the future” EXACTLY!!!

“There are things Burke can do with an eye two or three years down the road, which is, realistically, when they might become competitive. Resurrection begins with good results in the draft, commencing in the lottery, which is why being bad – and .363 is as bad as it gets – doesn’t necessarily need to be the end of the world.”

Stop telling us how bad we are. It isn’t becoming and frankly it pisses us off. It’s interesting that Perkins rightfully leaves the Jays out of the discussion. Maybe he knows what we (with the exception of Eye) believe, that the right guy isn’t at that table. Hope, all we need is a tiny morsel of hope. If the right people are around the draft table there is hope. Guarantees? Nope. No such thing (death, taxes and self serving Berger Blogs excepted). Being so bad should have it’s payoff…Let’s see if the right guys are at the table.

The Morning Wasn’t Better

You know I need a life when I am listening to the morning show on the Fan, and all I can think is, what would Mike S say? Did anyone catch Kypreos on the fan this am? Man was that segment BRUTAL…. I am not surprised it isn’t on the website. I am telling you, this wicked winter is taking its toll on everyone..

Kypreos made one good point. Toskala has been the disappointment of the season. He was the one guy who should have been strong and Burke is probably questioning what to do with him big time. I think Nick got caught up in his packing for Montreal when he said the one good thing about Toskala is that he is locked up with a long term contract (and no, there wasn’t any sarcasm)

Landry’s big contribution to the segment was an impression of big Nick- that was ok, certainly not funny.

Stellick asked Kypreos a great question which Nick did everything but answer. The question was, looking at Michael Ryder from the Bruins last night, who had a rough go of it in Montreal last year, makes you think that Ron Wilson and Brian Burke are scouring other rosters looking for guys who are having a tough time with a current coach/team thinking that they can turn a guy around, who, Nick would be a good example of those types of guys for Leaf fans to look out for? Wow, what a great question right? One that a guy like Kypreos should be able to answer. He didn’t come anywhere near answering it. All he did was restate the fact that the Michael Ryder had a rough time in Montreal last year and that being reunited with Claude Julien has been very good for him. Thanks for coming out Nick.

Then he was asked if Grabovsky needs to play a little bigger (in fairness this was Landry’s question) in that he appears to get pushed off the puck pretty easily. Good question that I have heard a few times. Again instead of answering it, Nick explained that Grabovsky hasn’t earned his ice time, that he should be relegated to 4th line duty until he has earned 1st or 2nd line status let alone time on the power play. I think that is a very far sighted answer to a near sighted problem, but it is IRRELEVANT. Kypreos would make an awesome politician. His answers are all about his agenda, and not in any way related to the question(at least this morning)

Then, the topic became the all star game. Stellick said to Kypreos, you (Nick) blame Bettman for everything, now the all star game is coming, revenues from the game are split between the league and the players and the marquee players are choosing not to go (not those who are injured). Kypreos, again ignored the question and went on to rip the event. He said it should go back to the way it used to be and not have fans vote. When he was asked about players not going, he said they shouldn’t go. When Stellick said that he admired a guy for being honest (and I don’t remember who the player was) in saying, I am not going because I don’t want to go as opposed to lying and saying I am “injured” Big Nick ripped Stellick for admiring a guy for being honest. Big Nick then contradicted himself about 4 different ways about what the game should be before essentially saying the game is a total joke and not worth watching, let alone attending. When the guys reminded him that he was going for Sportsnet he said “Oh yeah riveting TV”…Now, if I am David Akande and I am paying for Nick to go to Montreal, I haul his ass back and say, you know what, stay home. Kypreos wants players to just say, I am not going and not give a reason. He should do the same thing. If you have to go, just say nothing to denigrate the product. I just can’t imagine his bosses are overly enamored with him telling people to not bother watching their coverage. Can you imagine if you are the head of marketing for one of Sportsnet’s clients (all-star or otherwise) and you heard this guy telling people not to bother watching? If it were me, I would call Akande and say, pull my ads, your guy says your coverage of the event isn’t worth watching….

The fan had a huge night last night. I hope it can continue later. After this am, I am not hopeful.

By the way, did anyone catch Rick Dudley in between the 2nd and 3rd periods on 640’s broadcast of the game? Great interview (bias). It was so good that the fan had him again on their after hours show (where he is a frequent guest). I am a huge Dudley fan. I am not sure there is anyone better out there who can speak about the game, those in it and how to spot and evaluate talent.

Draft Schmaft?

If you only read one article today (besides this one of course) check out the hockey news story by Ryan Dixon. It’s another story on how securing a top draft pick is not the only way to build a winner:

Consider if you will:

” the more you look around the league, the more you realize the folly of this sentiment. High picks are to NHL GMs what miracle diets are to the lumpy couch potato; sure, they can give you an immediate jolt, but if you want sustainable results, you have to hit the gym. In the case of NHL GMs, you need your scouts to scour gyms, arenas and any other place you’d expect to find a burgeoning hockey player who has yet to be spotted or has, at the very least, been underrated. That way, your ability to select impact players isn’t restricted to the 20 minutes immediately following the chorus of boos Gary Bettman receives right after saying, “Welcome to the NHL draft.”

There is no question about this. It’s never about 1 guy, it’s a team game and you will win and lose by your roster.

“Want three examples of why you don’t need famine in order to feast in the NHL? Start with Detroit, San Jose and Boston, also known as the three best teams in the league. The highest any of those clubs have chosen since 2000 is No. 5, which is where the Bruins got Phil Kessel in 2006. Boston has selected in the top 10 on two other occasions over that time frame, while San Jose has three top-10 picks, the highest coming at No. 6 (Milan Michalek). Detroit, as you’d expect, has none.All of those teams got to the top – and can expect to stay there – because they’ve done an exceptional job of drafting in the mid-to-late first round and beyond.”

Keep in mind folks this is in the new NHL era. It is the one reason I have hope. The old days of building teams are over, the need for an influx of new minds is every present.

“Once upon a time, the Sens were among the NHL’s best at unearthing draft gems. In 1997, they nabbed Marian Hossa with the 12th overall pick. Two years later, with the 26th selection, they grabbed Martin Havlat. But Ottawa’s depth has been undermined by its inability to continue finding players of that quality. In the virtually idiot-proof first round of 2003, Ottawa drafted Patrick Eaves 29th overall. Boston took Patrice Bergeron with the 45th pick and Nashville hit a home run with Shea Weber four slots later at No. 49.
The year before that, in 2002, Ottawa took Jakub Klepis No. 16 overall. Oops.”

Again, stories of pre salary cap NHL aren’t overly relevant. Teams operated completely differently back then (look at our leafs). The Sens much like the leafs (but to a different degree) haven’t adapted to the post war era. Their GM is still stuck in the old mindset. He has over priced talent that he can’t move and remains steadfast in their value despite their lack of production. Detroit isn’t a fair comparison. They were SO bad for so long that when they started to get it right they had built a system that was for lack of a better word recession proof. The machine was built pre Cap and still works post Cap. Let’s see what they do next season and the season after. The pressure will be higher because expectations are high AND the cap isn’t supposed to increase, rather it’s supposed to go down. The pressure to draft properly especially from the bottom of the rounds will go way up.

“I completely understand why bottom-feeders like the Islanders, Atlanta, St. Louis and Toronto are drooling at the prospect of drafting a John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Those teams are, to some degree, devoid of talent and need a new cornerstone around which to build. But being bad and picking very high for a number of years does have its perils. First of all, the boom only comes after a bust and who knows how many fans a prolonged down cycle alienates if you’re not in a market where hockey is the undisputed No. 1 sport.”

Thankfully that isn’t a Toronto problem. At least not right now. We have suffered so long without a marquee name (an elite, best of the league type) for, well almost ever! ( i know certain Sundin lovers will throw shit at me for that, but the truth hurts).

“Secondly, at some point you’re going to be paying out a huge amount of salary to a small portion of your team. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to pony up for both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after next season when their entry-level deals both expire.”

Having two young studs is a problem I can live with. Dixon brings up the Pens with this problem too. I have a difficult blaming the fact that they have 2 guys who are going to make big bucks as the problem. It’s a problem when you don’t have a GM who knows how to put the right pieces around them. I mean no disrespect to Detroit’s grind line, but they are the type of team that they are because their muckers and grinders- Plumbers as Burke calls them are better then anyone elses. That’s where the good teams make the big difference. Great players are great. It’s the guys who get dirty where you need to seperate yourself from the pack.

“Fans of struggling teams can cry for a complete rebuild if they want, but a steady diet of top picks can leave you with nothing more than a bloated salary cap if you’re not supplementing it with a nice dose of hidden gems.”

Or some great plumbers!

you can read the story here

A random thought

Saws Berger’s post on Pogge getting some playing time over the next couple of weeks. That is great. I think the Buds owe it to themselves and to Pogge to see what if anything he can do. Having said that, what happens to the other 2. One who is clearly over the hill, playing wise and one who just quite can’t stop fighting the puck. The isles are down a goalie and so are the bluejackets. Maybe, just maybe we can sell either of them a Vessa.

44 shopping days left. 44 days for assets to show their stuff (or sail a puck 15 feet over the glass in to the stands and take a dumb penalty). 44 days to meet with scouts, check your list and then go do what you can. It’s nice that guys like Damien find inspiration for us in Boston. They are setting the table for Burke to fail. That is ok. I think Burke will do just fine. Luck will take care of itself. Interested to see how we do against the B’s a team that is really fun to watch.

Have a good night