At a charity golf tournament Monday in Toronto, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke answered to an eager media. In a summer tabloid dominated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between the league and players, Burke chose to remain conservative in his response, yet colourful in his response to ESPN’s “Ultimate Standings.”
As you’re likely aware of by now, ESPN named the Maple Leafs the worst franchise, out of 122, in professional sports. And as you may expect, the Leafs President and GM didn’t take it too kindly.
“I don’t think ESPN knows a single thing about hockey, I think their hockey coverage stinks and I don’t think they know anything about Canada.”
This isn’t the first time he’s been critical of ESPN’s opinion on specific rankings. Sports Illustrated named Dion Phaneuf the most overrated player in the league. You can imagine how well he took that claim. When it came to commenting on Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations and any possible progress.
“The league’s doing all the talking about the collective bargaining agreement. Obviously, I’ve been in on a bunch of the meetings, but not the last week or so. And I’ll let the league comment on it. I wish I could say more. I mean, you guys know me: ‘no comment’ is not something that comes out of these lips easily.”
Though he may have refused to give insight to details regarding the looming NHL lockout, he did respond to the goaltending concern in Toronto.
“We believe in James Reimer. We have said, from the get-go, that if we get the opportunity to upgrade at the goaltending position, we’re going to do it. That’s still the case. But it’s not a frantic search for a goaltender. We believe in James Reimer … We believe there’s no reason why he can’t be ‘the guy.’”
I know what you’re thinking, he said the same thing in July. It’s a valid point, yet the fact that he has not wavered on the matter could suggest a legitimate confidence in the youngster. Also remember during the season, he always answered the goaltending situation with ‘We believe in James Reimer.’ But perhaps the more surprising response was in regards to upgrading the roster, especially at the center position.
“Based on the lack of activity that I see out there, no, I don’t think we’ll do anything else right now. We’ll probably go with this group.”
Okay, maybe it’s not as surprising as it is just disappointing. But as a Leafs fan, can we actually anticipate many big moves, ever? But given that the Leafs were competitive for majority of the season last year, were the problems more internal than anything? A new coach, added depth, and a fresh start could be just what the Leafs need to compete next season.. whenever that may be.