SUN Hockey Pool

Simmons: Swap Burke for Alex

STEVE SIMMONS, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:53 PM ET

A trade that might fix both teams: Brian Burke to the Blue Jays in exchange for Alex Anthopoulos.

Think about it for a minute.

Burke is all about now. No time to rebuild. No patience. No need to keep draft picks. He has money to spend, but little to spend it on. And all of that isnít working, philosophically or otherwise, for the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs donít have to sell tickets. They have to win games.

Anthopoulos is all about tomorrow. And the day after that. Heíll trade away his opening-day starter for a prospect who is two years away. Heíll lose key players to free agency and be happy to pick up the draft picks, who might arrive here in 2014. His drive is to accumulate and stockpile as many young assets as possible for as long a period as possible. Itís a noble, patient, and occasionally excruciating long-term plan.

But hereís the rub: The Jays donít sell enough tickets. Why would they sell any more when the 2011 team is looking weaker than the 2010 version? Itís nice to plan and plot and build for the future, but you need some kind of present, as well.

Burke, in baseball clothing, might have gone after a Carl Crawford or a Cliff Lee in free agency and at least made a flash about it this winter.

Anthopoulos, in Leafs blue and white, might otherwise be headed to June with a bevy of draft picks.

Neither team is anywhere near real contention and itís not comforting in any way to wait for a rebuild to occur while watching a rushed one fail.

THIS AND THAT

This is Tomas Kaberleís sixth season post-lockout with the Leafs, his sixth consecutive losing season, almost certain to miss the playoffs again. Others might want to play for a winner. Not Tomas. He seems perfectly content to lose year after year. Donít think Iíll ever completely understand the man ... Mike Komisarek is about as decent a person and solid a personality as is playing for the Leafs. And that makes itís hard to come down on him when his play doesnít come anywhere close to expectations. If he were a Bryan McCabe type, heíd be getting slaughtered by the press ... Iíd like to see Rob Ford as Mayor of Glendale, Ariz. Just for a moment. Then youíd see the inept Phoenix Coyotes back in Winnipeg, where they belong. The City of Glendale, which paid $180 million US to build the Coyotes a home, pumped in another $25 million to keep the team afloat is now being asked to cough up $100 million to buy the parking rights for the building it paid for. Oh, and this should change the franchise fortunes? Theyíll be changing their names to the Arizona Coyotes ... Why our federal government canít commit money to a new arena in Quebec City: Because if it does, it has to do the same in Edmonton for hockey, and in Regina, Winnipeg, Moncton and maybe Quebec City for football. And who knows who else will have their hands out by then?

HEAR AND THERE

While all kinds of noise is made about the Leafsí lack of scoring, consider this: Their leading scorer, Clarke MacArthur, way down at 54th in the NHL, has more points than anyone on eight different teams ó Ottawa, Edmonton, Columbus, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, Phoenix or St. Louis ... A quick Sunday stat: There are 59 players with more assists than Ilya Kovalchuk has points, and 14 of those are defencemen ... The amazing Sidney Crosby has 18 more goals than any other forward on the Pittsburgh Penguins and, at just past the one-third mark of the season, heís 30 points ahead of any winger on his team in scoring. One thing Crosby doesnít do that his owner, Mario Lemieux, managed: Crosby doesnít elevate the scrap heap the way Lemieux made Rob Brown a 113-pount scorer once and Warren Young a 40-goal man another time ... A Warren Young fact: He scored 40 NHL goals playing with Lemieux and just 32 others in parts of six other NHL seasons ... At his current pace, John Tavares will finish his second season with 28 goals and a minus-60 ... The plan at the beginning of the season was to have Jean-Sebastien Giguere play 50 games and Jonas Gustavsson around 30. If Iím Ron Wilson, I turn that around now: 50 Gustavsson, 30 Giguere.

SCENE AND HEARD

What made Pat Gillick a Hall of Famer: A World Series in Toronto, and the team hasnít been in playoffs since he left. Playoffs in Baltimore, and the team has been a disaster since he left. Playoffs in Seattle, and the team has been a disaster since he left. A World Series in Philadelphia, the Philliesí first appearance there since playing the Jays in 1993. The only comparable sports executive with that kind of track record is Bill Parcells in the NFL, who has changed the fortunes of five teams ... A healthy scratch in Calgary last night: Matt Stajan ... Department of Dumb: CFL teams keeping their free-agent lists secret. Hey folks, this is the off-season. People want something to talk about. If you give them nothing, you disappear. Not only should the free-agent list be public, but so should the team negotiating lists ... Silly question for a Sunday morning: If Cleo Lemon couldnít play when healthy, how was he supposed to win with an injured hand? ... A note about Kavis Reed, new coach of the Edmonton Eskimos: Wasnít he the too many men on the field coach who cost the Roughriders a Grey Cup? ... At some point in time, shouldnít DeMar DeRozan get better? ... Someone needs to sit down and talk to Vince Young. Itís one thing to go on injured reserve. Itís another to not show up at your teamís games. Hell, my minor hockey players are instructed to be at games when injured.

AND ANOTHER THING

The notion that the shares owned by the Teachersí Pension Fund in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., are only now for sale is somewhat redundant. The shares are an investment by a pension fund. They are always in play, always for sale, for the right price. Thatís their business ... What a bunch of whining from the Tampa Bay Lightning over the spin-a-rama shootout goal by Linus Omark on Friday night. Hey boys, the ĎEí in ESPN stands for entertainment. But the hockey world is steadfast in its belief that it wants character, not characters ... A get-well-soon to broadcasting friend and curling legend Colleen Jones, suffering from bacterial pneumonia ... And congratulations to Ron Artest, who has committed to donating half his $6.79-million US salary next season for the growing problem of mental health issues in schools. Youth suicide is at an all-time high and Artest wants to bring awareness to the issues. The only possible flaw in his plan: There may not be an NBA season next year because of a possible lockout, which means no salary, therefore no donation ... Born this date: Frank Sinatra and Steve Durbano. And a happy birthday to Billy Smith (60), Orlando Hudson (33), Randy Smith (62), Tracy Austin (48), Gorman Thomas (60) and Jennifer Connolly (40) ... And hey. whatever became of Shawn Burr?

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/simmonssteve

The St-Pierre Question

First and foremost, Dana White has become the leading promoter of expensive fighting shlock in the wide world of sports. He has taken over from where other such as Vince McMahon and Don King once reigned supreme. And his hyperbole, while amusing, is also impressive. White got all kinds of people talking this week, which is his job, with his blanket assertion that UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre is the most famous Canadian athlete ever around the world. St-Pierre is famous. So, too, was Wayne Gretzky at the height of his popularity. But as world figures go, White could use a history lesson. Neither St-Pierre nor Gretzky can begin to compare with the most famous Canadian sports figure of all-time. His name, like it or hate it, is Ben Johnson.

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Athlete of the Year

It is rare in an Olympic year for an Olympic participant not to be named Canadaís athlete of the year. But this is a year full of candidates, beginning with my choice, National League MVP Joey Votto. Itís also a year in which individual Olympic athletes, aside from maybe speedskater Christine Nesbitt, donít have the necessary qualifications to win in a tough field. From hockey, there are two excellent candidates, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. Crosby had been the dominant NHL player and scored the winning goal at the Olympics. Toews was the best forward at the Olympics, a Stanley Cup champion in Chicago and the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in the playoffs. Those are impressive resumes. But in a deeper sport than either speedskating or hockey and in a much tougher field, Votto was the best player at his game, not just in the NL but in the American League also. That may not get him the award. It will, unless convinced otherwise, get him my vote on Tuesday for the Lou Marsh Trophy.


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