Friday, January 11, 2013

Bye-Bye Brian

So the Leafs have fired bombastic GM Brian Burke, ensuring that this season will be the least entertaining in some time. Depending on which sources you read, the firing was due to Burke's failure to make the playoffs during his 4-year tenure, his unwillingness to trade for Roberto Luongo, or a personality conflict with the new owners (I fear the name George Cope may become this decade's equivalent to Harold Ballard).

Whatever the case, there is an air of expectation in Toronto. Although I am self-righteously boycotting the NHL this season, there is always a concern that the Leafs will suddenly become contenders and draw me back in. With Burke's firing seeming to indicate meddling owners though, I think this is more unlikely than it was last week.

Dave Nonis is the new GM and faces the challenge of bringing Toronto another winner. The city is now used to winning championships after the Argos claimed the 100th Grey Cup back in November and Nonis either has to match that (with meddling owners) or be deemed an unqualified failure. Good luck Dave.

Finally, I wanted to mention a story that explains why I will always support Brian Burke. You all know about his work with LGBT causes after the death of his son Brendan, and what I am about to relate is insignificant beside that, but it illustrates how Burke always kept an eye out for the little guy. When my occasional roadtripping buddy Sharpy and I were in Nashville to see the Leafs in January, 2010, we ended up with post-game passes to the basement of the Sommet Center (as Bridgestone Arena was known back then). This allowed us to stand behind a barrier and watch the Leafs walk to their bus. The sight was doubtless pathetic: two middle-aged men in Leaf jerseys waiting for their heroes to pass by. The Leafs had won 4-3 but even then, those players who passed by seemed distracted and did not acknowledge us. Only when Burke emerged did we get some validation; as he walked by he said gruffly, "Thanks for coming, guys.". Just four words that made the entire two-week roadtrip worthwhile, even though the Leafs lost all three games that we saw after that.

For now, Burke is still employed by the Leafs as a consultant, but I'm guessing he is already looking for other options where he can be in charge again. When that happens, I'll send him a message: "So long, Brian, and thanks for coming to Toronto".



1 comment:

  1. Sean:
    Very good blog. Suggest send to a TO paper.