Burke front and centre

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Coming off a week-long Western Canadian swing, we present some news and views on the Maple Leafs, who could well have a new president/general manager in the near future. Can you guess who?

- Cross your fingers that the Brian Burke-to-Boston speculation doesn't fester with the Bruins in town tonight. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli doesn't deserve to hear that schlock. Under Chiarelli's guidance, the Bruins have emerged as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and he deserves to finish what he started. Here's hoping the recent public claim by Boston management that there is no interest in Burke is accurate.

- Once the suits at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., hammer out their desire to pursue Burke along with the tenure and cash they are set to offer (if they haven't already), the process should accelerate.

- It's admirable that these young Leafs never give up, often scoring late just when it seems the game has got away from them. That is a tribute to the determination of the players and the influence of the coaching staff to instil a never-say-die attitude. Having said that, it is shinny suicide for this team to continue surrendering the first goal in games, which it did twice on its three-game western swing.

- Richard Peddie was on the mark when he described the fact the Leafs went almost three years without playing in Western Canada as "a travesty." In Calgary, Vancouver and -- to a lesser extent -- Edmonton, the number of blue and white jerseys in the stands was staggering. Even local reporters in all three cities expressed astonishment at the support for the visiting Leafs. Kudos to the NHL for at least altering its ways so that the Leafs will face the western Canadian teams in a home-and-home this season. It says here it should stay that way, if not increase.

- For the second consecutive season, Vesa Toskala is off to a slow start. A year ago, he rebounded but that won't ease the concerns of management, which has not seen its goalie come up with the big save when needed.

- Imagine this scenario: Burke, the GM of the U.S. Olympic team, takes the Leafs job, then subsequently names Ron Wilson the American coach. Meanwhile, Steve Yzerman, executive director of Team Canada, appoints Red Wings coach Mike Babcock for Vancouver 2010. The end result: The Canada-U.S. game will pit the management teams of the Leafs and Red Wings against each other.

- Good on Matt Stajan for picking up his play to the extent that he is averaging about a point a game since being made a healthy scratch early in the season. Of more concern right now: Where is Alex Steen?

- Remember all the fuss being made when Jeff Finger signed that four-year, $14-million US deal? Is he overpaid compared to others of his calibre? Sure. At the same time, you haven't heard much of Finger since he has been in the lineup. That's a good thing. Defensive defencemen such as Finger are like offensive linemen in football: If their names are not mentioned, that means they are doing their jobs. Finger, to his credit, has been solid, if not spectacular.

- Note to Burke: If you do come, keep Cliff Fletcher, Joe Nieuwendyk and Jeff Jackson in the fold. To this point, they have knitted together a team few figured would be this competitive.

- If and when Burke does take over, what is the over/under in terms of days, hours, even minutes, before he loses patience with Jason Blake in the event the veteran forward is benched again and resumes complaining? Would Burke, who doesn't take a lot of guff, step on the gas pedal and speed up the process of potentially placing him on waivers and sending him to the minors?


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