It seems that I am the only Blue and White fan that actually enjoyed the presser this afternoon. Over the past week I have been listening to what Leaf fans wanted Burke to say, versus what they expected him to say. I full out believe that it didn’t matter what was said by the Leaf’s GM and that the failure of the season was enough to simply cast aside anything meaningful he could have or did address.
So what is it that Leaf fan’s were expecting from this presser? Did they want Burkie to blow the team up? Did they want him to try and dump some salaries? Were they looking for him to try and trade up to get a near guaranteed future star?
Fortunately, all of these questions were asked of Burke, and in my opinion, he responded admirably.
When asked about blowing up the team, Burke said that he believed he had some pillars in place, referring to a few key defensive pieces along with the second line and his two top performing forwards.
When asking about dumping salaries, he did not dismiss the idea, but did say it would depend highly on what came out of the new CBA.
When talking about the #1 future centre we so desperately needed, he mentioned it would be his #1 concern (along with goaltending) and did not dismiss the possibility for trading up to get that star we need, or potentially acquiring him in a trade.
One of the more important points that was addressed was that he completely dismissed the possibility of trading our #1 pick for nothing short of guaranteed help. Asked if he would consider trading the pick for an unproven goaltender with high potential, the answer was a definite ‘NO’.
On top of all of this, he willingly took a portion of the blame for the failed season, and even addressed the situation with former coach Ron Wilson. He stated what many had speculated, that Ron and himself had different views of what it took to build a championship team, but felt he had to give his coach the best possibility to succeed. Clearly the style Wilson employed did not involve the cast of characters that Burke likes to have, but he supported his staff just as he supports his players. To those who have kept a keen eye on what has been developing, you have seen that Burke has added size where it didn’t affect the system Wilson had in place, and that is in the developmental leagues. Biggs, Ashton, Frattin, Ross etc… all are young, aggressive players who aren’t afraid to use their size every shift. This left the speedy forwards available to Wilson, well not sacrificing Burke’s overall image of the team for the future.
Now that Carlyle is behind the bench, is there any doubt that these names will begin appearing in Leaf’s uniforms on a more regular basis? Another point Burke was sure to point out.
Everything, I repeat, EVERYTHING I wanted to hear from Burke was said. However, I am not going to take this and accept it as is. What I will do now is to try and evaluate what he said, with what he actually does this offseason. Burke has run out of reasons not to address what he has said in this press conference. He has the full support of fans to not sacrifice the future, and he has the full support of his coach to build a team with size.
Before the entirety of Leaf’s nation jumps all over what they expect him to do, and begin criticizing him before he has even made a move this offseason, let’s try and go into the summer months with an open mind, and try at the very least to be slightly optimistic.
For those of you that have had enough and insist on being cynical, I say, enjoy your misery.