Gav on Sports
By Terry Gavan – Voice Sports
Brian Burke was, hmm, a little agitated after the all-star fantasy picks last Friday evening.
He doesn’t like the format and he’s not crazy about the show.
Or at least that’s what he told TSN on the weekend.
Burke said the format made a mockery of Phil Kessel, the Toronto Maple Leafs erstwhile $5 million dollar man, and that the NHL should rethink their last five picks in the draft.
Why was Burke so vehement on the subject?
Because Brian The Bold – the Harvard brief and chief Leaf – got his face rubbed by a stinky glove last Friday evening.
Maple Leaf’s Phil Kessel was picked last during the Fantasy Team NHL All-Star night draft held in Raleigh NC last Friday (Jan 27).
A weedy, weak, grasping and detritus-ridden trade – was it only 16 months ago – with Boston GM Peter Chiarelli snogging first and second round draft picks in 2010 – Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin –and a first round pick in 2011 for Phil ‘The Flying Waffle’ Kessel was dubious from the get go.
And last Friday, things devolved into farce for the Leaf’s GM who was forced to watch as his prize acquisition – the poster child for his tenure in Toronto – sat there with a goofy grin, while chairs were folded behind him on the concrete floor.
Burke “The Bilge” forced to watch, as the picks just kept on dwindling, to the ineffable and tepid final blow.
Kessel sat all by himself, like a woozy winner in some bizarre game of musical chairs.
And Brian the Bland – we can only presume – scrunched well into the back of his chair; no grin; knowing that this was an ironic, laconic and possibly – dependant on whether Burke ever regains his Midas touch – iconic commentary on that whack-a-mole trade and his own legacy as Leafs GM.
It was truly an Emperor has no clothes moment for Burke.
Too bad TSN missed getting a split-screen shot of Burke and Kessel at that moment.
The juxtaposition would have been hilarious.
Because this was a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment for Burkey.
Make no mistake: Burke has a long memory.
He was embarrassed on national television.
Someone’s gonna’ pay.
Maybe Kessel? Nah. He’s being paid $5 million per for middling results. No smart general manager would pay a fair price for Kessel today. If the so-called hand of god couldn’t get it right? Who’s gonna’ mess with that jest?
This was an embarrassing indictment of Burke.
Kessel was in the Fantasy Draft only because he was the best the Leafs had to offer in a new all-star paradigm that seeks representation from every team.
Meld Kessel’s woeful performance against the jump-started surge of what the Leafs lost – a Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin in 2010 and a new whiz kid in 2011 – and the trade simmers more and more abysmal with each passing year.
Kessel is the poster child for Burke’s raison d’être, management style and overall strategy.
Since taking the helm of MLSE’s floundering flagship, HMS Maple Leaf, Burke’s imprimatur is unmistakable. First Kessel. And then a gasp-gassed-grasper at Dion Phaneuf, a talented but dubious commodity. Phaneuf is now the too-soft-spoken captain of a sinking schooner.
Phaneuf is a decent guy. But he’s no George Armstrong. Oh shit, do we have to go that far back?
Burke’s attempts to toughen the club do not mesh with the new National Hockey League template –teamplate? – where speed and youth are favored in lieu of the tough guy mentality of the Anaheim Ducks, Burke’s one and only Stanley Cup team – a team that most now offer was mentored and shaped more by the Senators’ Bryan Murray than Burke.
His refusal to address Coach Ron Wilson’s colloquial mentorship is a sore spot that will eventually turn gangrenous.
The fact that the two are part of an American – the Yankee-doodle elephant in the room – concubine is an optic Leafs’ fans will not continue to ignore. As the Leafs sink like an Edsel into some murky morass Burke is going to have to jettison Wilson – better sooner than later.
There are better coaches out there and Burke’s intransigence on the Wilson juke and jive is, quite frankly, mind-boggling.
Witness the recent NHL players’ poll released last weekend that cited – with 24 percent landslide – Wilson as the coach NHL players would not like to play for.
And Toronto ranked only behind the Islanders, Edmonton and Atlanta as the team players would “least” like to play on.
Well, he’s gone from soothsaying wunderkind.
To a gruff guy with a terse grin, sitting on a folding chair in the middle of an empty stage.
I personally hope that the Leafs hang in with the Burke The Blithe.
Of course… I’m a Habs fan.
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