Brian Burke prides himself on his complete effort and range of options that he targets in sourcing out talent. While he has used the traditional Amateur Draft, like every other GM, he has also pursued free agent, undrafted juniors, and taken advantage of the deep pockets at MLSE, the ownership company of the hockey club.
He also came to the Leafs after successful stints in Vancouver, where his biggest coup was trading his way into being able to choose the Sedin brothers and set the Canucks for their recent upward trajectory.
Later, he moved on to Anaheim, a strong team that he put over the top, when he acquired Chris Pronger, to bolster the Ducks, who would soon become Stanley Cup champions.
In 3 years as the Leafs’ GM, he spoke initially of filling the top two forward lines with quality scoring forwards, improving a suspect defense and creating more depth in the organization.
He’s taken plenty of slings and arrows, along the way, but no one can doubt that he has filled this roster with quality and depth at each position, certainly giving his coach plenty of options, with a host of ready replacements in the minor leagues.
Ron Wilson, a long-time friend of Burke was hired in June 2008, by interim GM Cliff Fletcher, to become the head coach of the Leafs. Wilson has accumulated an impressive career coaching record punctuated by over 600 wins in coaching more than 1300 games.
A coach doesn’t put up those kinds of career totals unless he knows a thing or two about the game.
Yet, Wilson has been roundly criticized for the failure of Leaf special teams and the continued inability of this once proud franchise to make the playoffs under his tenure behind the bench.
This year, a turnaround in fortunes is plainly visible and the general overhaul and improvement of this roster has given Wilson some quality pieces to build a team around. As a result the club’s power play and penalty kill are both showing signs of being much improved.
As they say, you can’t get blood out of a stone.
Currently, the Coach and GM are having fun with the media, who accuse them of withholding or misrepresenting information from the media and many corners of the media are up in arms.
I think Burke and Wilson have long memories and now that Leaf fortunes are turning, look for these confident management veterans to enjoy the reversal of fortunes, turning the knife against their critics.
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