Despite my juvenile Photoshop skills, I think you get the picture. The Toronto Maple Leafs are pitiful, a team that has regressed rather than progressed under the management of Brian Burke. Ron Wilson has been the target of blame for most mainstream media types, taking the brunt of criticism for the team’s horrible penalty kill and lack of defensive responsibility. Some of that criticism is justified, Wilson appears to have lost whatever grip he had on this sad sack roster. However, the man responsible for a large part of this inept squad continues to go unscathed despite his questionable personnel decisions.
As bad as they have been in recent years, it’s unlikely anyone would have predicted the Leafs would have been as awful as they are. Am I wrong, or was part of Burke’s M.O. to rebuild this once proud franchise? If that was the case, then their performance thus far in 2009-10 would be a little more acceptable as it would have produced a potential number one draft pick. That’s not the case, as Boston is laughing their way to the entry draft after having once again fleeced the Leafs in a trade. While Burke isn’t the man responsible for sending Tuukka Rask to Boston, he is the sole figure of blame for sending the team’s future to Boston for Phil Kessel.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to rid themselves of nearly $20 million in cap space at the end of the season, which is looking rather attractive at this point considering their immediate need to re-tool the roster. Once again, they’re going to have to tear up the puzzle and put it back together again. Perhaps if Burke had of kept his mouth shut and laid off the pre-season playoff predictions, then this wouldn’t come as such a surprise to Leafs Nation. Instead, they’re left with a second tier star in Phil Kessel, an over abundance of defensemen, no first round draft choice until 2012, and a couple of sieves in goal.
It begs the question; what has Burke’s flurry of transactions done to improve the state of the franchise? At this point, very little. Sure Kessel might score 40 goals in a blue shirt, and that defense core could be pretty imposing if it got its shit together, but Toronto is a mess with no surefire clean-up in sight. Are Burke’s hands tied with Ron Wilson not only being his friend, but also his coach for the American Olympic team? Maybe, but that’s beside the point. Brian Burke has done a terrible job in his first year as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maybe it’s time to stop pondering the potential of acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk and start demanding some accountability from the guy who should be held accountable.