Leafs would be a proving ground for Burke

Gary Loewen, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:50 PM ET

Brian Burke might turn out to be a shining knight when/if he takes over as Maple Leafs general manager.

But let's not start tossing the Cup confetti just yet.

Yeah, he won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, but Burke inherited a great bunch of prospects from his predecessor, Bryan Murray, when he took over as Ducks GM in June 2005.

And star defencemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger virtually landed in his lap.

Niedermayer, a free agent in 2005, joined Anaheim because he wanted to play with his brother, Rob. Pronger demanded out of Edmonton a year later.

Things went slightly awry for Burke and the Ducks, though, during the Stanley Cup hangover season, 2007-08.

When Scott Niedermayer decided to return from a semi-retirement last December, the cap-strapped Burke sent Andy McDonald, one of his top forwards, to the St. Louis Blues for the elderly Doug Weight.

McDonald is the Blues' leading scorer this season. Weight is with the New York Islanders, having moved on as a free agent.

Obviously, Burke did a better job in Anaheim than he had in Vancouver, where the Canucks won just one playoff series through a six-year stretch.

But Burke also is leaving his successor, Bob Murray, with contract issues and a snug salary cap.

The contracts of such players as Scott Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin, Sammy Pahlsson and Travis Moen expire after this season.

As Helene Elliott wrote in the Los Angeles Times after Burke stepped down as Ducks GM, "Burke was stretching the truth a lot by saying he's leaving a team that's in good shape.

"The Ducks have such limited cap space they couldn't keep prized prospect Bobby Ryan, who might solve that second-line wing problem. Burke brought some of the woes on himself with his wrongheaded acquisition of Todd Bertuzzi, whom he later bought out, and by overpaying Mathieu Schneider, who was discarded before this season."

Burke admitted that Murray wasn't "inheriting a walk through the park."

"More like a stroll along a narrow cliff," Elliott wrote.

Burke is shrewd, strong-minded and has been a winner. But with the Leafs, he'll have to prove himself all over again.


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