Thursday, January 10, 2013
Oh Well, That Didn't Work
When he took over in 2008/09, Toronto had a 7-9-6 record on the season and were a mere two points out of the NHL basement. The question is, are the Leafs any better off now than they were then? Perhaps the answer is an obvious one or else he would not have been fired, but let's compare the rosters of the Leafs before and after Burkie brought his truculent brand of hockey to town.
On Nov. 27, 2008 Toronto lost 2-1 in a shootout at Ottawa. The average age of the roster that night was 27.2 years. Their top six forwards were Jason Blake, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman. As well there was Nikolai Kulemin, Dominic Moore, Lee Stempniak and playing the role of Nazem Kadri...Jiri Tlusty.
Compare this to the current roster of Joffrey Lupul, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur, James Van Riemsdyk and Grabovski. Kulemin is still in the role of third-liner. Add to this Jay McClement, Matt Frattin, Tim Connolly and Kadri.
On defence the Leafs that Burke inherited had a top-six of Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Ian White, Jeff Finger, Anton Stralman and a rookie Luke Schenn. Today the Leafs boast a defence core of Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, JM Liles, Mike Komisarek and hopefully Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson.
In the nets the Leafs have evolved from a Toskala and Joseph tandem totaling 72 years in age to a (for now) Reimer, Scrivens duo aged 24 and 26.
All in all, the average age of the current squad is definitely younger (approximately 25.0 years depending on the lineup) but is it better or worse than when Burke came aboard? To me it seems like comparing rotten apples to moldy oranges. If I had to pick, it would have to be the current roster just barely. In reality, the last four plus years under Burke have been pretty much a waste of time. If not for his two fine trades acquiring Phaneuf, Lupul and Gardiner it would have been a definite regression. Two good trades, zero playoff appearances and one bad trade (yes, the Kessel trade) add up to a pink slip. The fact that the team's record was noticeably worse certainly didn't help Burke's resume.
In the end, I had grown sick of Burke's shtick and lack of results by the end of last season and I'm fine with him being turfed. I'm just not sure that his protegee Dave Nonis will result in much of a change.