Just a little nostalgia to get you in the mood to enjoy your reading.
Can anyone smell that? I'm talking about the mild aroma that is building in Anaheim. I'm hoping the autumn breezes and winter rains can wash it away and renew a freshness. I'm hoping for spring flowers and a summer Cup. However, this aroma has the potential to blossem into a musty odor, a dreadful stench, or even rotting waste.
I'm talking about the recent job performance of Brian Burke. Some call him a shrewd genious and a master manipulator. But after reviewing his performance over the last 18 months, some are whispering other words like fool and ignorance blinded by arrogance.
People can say whatever they want about the GMs in the NHL. Some have been flawless. Some have been terrible. Some have been fired and some have been given a lot of rope. Burke is somewhere in the "to-be-determined" category right about now.
He made some incredible moves leading up to winning the heralded Stanley Cup. Since then, a lot of question marks have surfaced. Here is a recap:
1) Unlimited decision window from Burke to S. Nieds and Selanne. Anybody who said it wasn't a distraction before, during, or after was a complete liar. Not having a timeline caused # 2.
2) Burke gives overinflated contracts for Bertuzzi and Schneider as "replacements". They should have been signed for $2M and $4M respectively.
3) Brian Burke trades away a 2nd round pick in the 2009 NHL draft for Brian Sutherby. Who? Brian Sutherby, an often scratched Washington Capital, is worthy of a 2nd round future draft pick? Really? And since his arrival to the Ducks in Nov 2007, when he was in the line-up, Brian Sutherby has played on the 4th line as the Center and recorded 1 assist in 50 games. Sutherby earns $700,000 per year.
4) Burke waives Bryzgalov and we get NOTHING in return. A starting goalie returned absolutely nothing? I still don't believe this.
5) Burke trades 27 year old Andy McDonald for 37 year old Doug Weight because of the "tagging" issue going into the 2008/09 season. Weight is a UFA at the end of the 2007/08 season and therefore his salary does not count against the Ducks for the following season's salary Cap and has zero impact on the "tagging" calculation. There should be jail time for this is grand theft.
6) Burke buys out Bertuzzi. Ducks on hook for 2/3rds of Bertuzzi's $4M salary. That's $2.7M for a player that will not even play for the Ducks.
7) Burke signs an injured and questionable 33 year old Brendan Morrison for $2.7M.
8) Burke can't trade viable NHL players (Marchant or Schneider) during the off season. Even taking some salary back in return would still help to shed and get under the Cap limit.
9) Burke gives new contracts to Getzlaf, Perry, and Kunitz. While they are somewhat backend loaded, can't they be more heavily backend weighted? With a bunch of pending UFAs in the 09-10 season, clearly there is more Cap room available next season and beyond.
10) Burke extends Hiller with a new contract. While only $1.3M for the next 3 years. He is certainly a great goaltender, but a very pricey backup.
11) Burke waives Schneider and NOBODY picks him up. The other NHL clubs know that Burke has himself over a barrel and they take full advantage of it.
12) Burke gives the LA Kings Sean O'Donnell for a conditional 3rd round pick. Conditional in that if the Kings keep OD through he season and past the trade deadline, then they don't have to give the Ducks anything. No 3rd round pick. All this for a top 4 defender that had the 3rd best +/- among Ducks defenders last season and the 2nd best +/- in 2006-07.
And as I attempt to post this blog, Burke send Bobby Ryan, a proven goal scorer to the AHL Iowa Chops. Again, it is because of poor Cap manegment that the Ducks are sending him down. And then Burke has the audacity to say that if they cantfind a way to bring Ryan back up, then maybe they will find him another hme in the NHL. Another head shaker.
To Brian Burke, Brian Sutherby is worth a 2nd rounder. But Bryzgalov, Schneider, and O'Donnel combined return nothing.
In basic math operation, I understand the CBA and Cap issues. What I don't understand is how you can make moves first (like sign Morrison) and then "hope" to get a deal done that gets you back under the Cap later. Instead, Burke made the moves and then forced himself to give players away for free in salary dumps.
I have no problem with making player personnel changes on a team. Trades are a legitimate mode and decisions get made. Waivers and buy outs are an admission of poor prior decisions. Waiving a starting goalie is just plain stupid. I have a problem when we give away players and get NOTHING in return.
Some people will place all the blame on Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne and say that they handcuffed Brian Burke. Last time I checked it was Burke that made the decisions and Burke placed the handcuffs on himself. He is now realizing the consequences of his poor management of player dealings and the salary Cap. Let's hope that players improve and step up and help the Ducks regain their Stanley Cup form. And that players like Bobby Ryan and Ryan Carter bring a new flair and scoring touch to the Ducks. For if not, the growing aroma may turn into an unwanted cesspool of rotten decisions, fan disappointment, and ownership disgust.
But then again, maybe Pigpen's famous dirt cloud (in the Charles Schultz comic Charlie Brown) will follow Brian Burke to another NHL town in 2009. I would not be surprised because as we continue to give players away for no return value, it proves that anything is possible in hockey.
Thanks for reading.