This is Burke's team, this is Burke's mess. Brian Burke had a hand in acquiring every player on our roster except Kaberle, Schenn, Gunarsson, and Kulemin.
When Brian Burke was brought on board as the Maple Leafs' GM, he had an aura about him. He was big and boisterous, he was confident and charismatic. He was our savior that was to lead us out of the JFJ years. Whatever Burke did, we stood by him. We trusted him and we believed that he was doing good for our hockey team. With Leafs fans getting ever frustrated, people are finally starting to realize that Burke is heavily to blame for our sluggish on-ice performance.
First and foremost, he failed to address our biggest need which was a top-flight offensive player. He instead added to our roster complimentary supporting-cast players in MacArthur, Versteeg, and Armstrong. A team needs to address it's biggest needs first and then start adding complimentary players. Burke did the opposite. He also failed to bring in a centre for this team, as it was quite clear in the off-season that any 4 of Bozak, Kadri, Grabovski, Mitchell, Hanson, Brent, or Zigomanis wasn't going to cut it. There may not have been any great centres available through free agency, but a player such as Mathew Lombardi could have helped us a lot.
Going back a bit, I'm going to reserve judgement on the Phanuef trade. Dion hasn't been good, but he hasn't gotten a great chance to prove himself yet. We also need to see what type of player Keith Aulie develops into. W'll see on that one. I think we can all agree though, that the Komisarek and Beacuhemin contracts were a mistake. Handing Mike Komisarek, a quality shut-down defenseman, $4.5 million a year was ludicrous. No shut-down defenseman is worth that money unless they have other skills such as being a swift passer or having a good shot. Komisarek does not, and he doesn't deserve the contract he was given. The Beauchemin contract though I felt was even worse. Yes Beauchemin was impressive in Anaheim when they won the cup, but he was coming off major knee surgery as a result of a torn ACL that caused him to play only 20 games the season before. Committing long-term to a player in Beachemin's situation was a bad move. Later on, Burke made the infamous Kessel trade. I'm not going to get into great detail, but I will say this: The price Burke paid for Kessel was the price you pay for a franchise player. Kessel is not a franchise player. Since the Leafs were a rebuilding team where draft picks are very important, this made the trade that much worse.
Burke made some good moves such as the Giguere trade and the MacArthur signing, and he also made some bad moves as I have outlined. Still, this is his team no matter what. This is his 5-8-3 team. We can blame Wilson, we can blame the players. Ultimately though, Burke is the main person to blame and it's time to stop cutting him slack.