Who knows what Burke might do?

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Most of the garbage has been swept out to the street and the recycling process of what is left of the Maple Leafs is all but complete.

So over to you, Brian Burke, when your celebrated coronation takes place.

Depending on how delicate you want to phrase it, general manager (for now) Cliff Fletcher and coach Ron Wilson have done their part in what has been an extraordinary purging of the miserable roster from a year ago.

With Monday's dispatching of perceived deadweights Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen, the fall cleanup would appear to be complete, although after last night's listless effort at the Air Canada Centre, who knows?

"It was ugly," Wilson said of the 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. "The compete level wasn't there. It was a flat bench and just dead."

Speaking of dead, the roster that awaits Burke is barely the carcass of the one that Leafs fans suffered through the past couple of seasons.

Of the 23 players who dressed for 28 games or more in 2007-08, only 13 were in the lineup last night.

So, now that the heavy lifting has been done, the timing couldn't be better for Burke to sashay into town and begin the next phase as the team's newest and perhaps most celebrated GM.

Burke should give Fletcher credit for identifying the players who either were questionable influences or in his opinion could no longer be effective in Toronto.

While he's at it, give Wilson his due for changing the culture in the dressing room to the point that if players aren't quite in fear for their jobs, they are bluntly held accountable for whatever ice time they earn.

Goaltender Curtis Joseph, who has moved six times in his career and has seen his good Leafs teams and his bad, acknowledged that such rapid turnover isn't common in the NHL. That said, Joseph believes the implosion was necessary.

"It's not the norm, that's for sure," said Joseph, who struggled in just his third start of the season last night. "But considering the circumstances, the mandate was to get younger immediately and let's go from there, let's build.

"As a veteran guy, you are always torn (about rebuilding.) But certainly that was the way to go. There are guys on the team now you didn't think were players and you say: 'That guy can play in the league, this guy can play.'

"You would never have known."

Mikhail Grabovski, who leads the team in goals with nine, is one such example as are John Mitchell and Nikolai Kulemin.

ACCOUNTABILITY

As for the most recent deportees, it was clear they were living on borrowed time with a regime that stresses character and accountability as its rudimentary building blocks.

Steen, who at times seemed to go about his business with a sense of entitlement at merely being a Leaf, was starting to sulk as Wilson pushed him further down the depth chart.

Colaiacovo got it even worse. When he wasn't a healthy scratch, he was regularly chided about his questionable fitness.

Matt Stajan is another player who could have met a similar fate, but when he found himself benched, he took a different route. Unlike his departed pals, Stajan clued in and quickly turned into more than a useful player.

Besides busting his butt on a nightly basis, he's on a point- a-game clip, far ahead of anything he's done previously in his career.

"They said changes were coming, so you can't really say you didn't expect it," Stajan said. "You just didn't know how it was going to happen.

"When (Burke) comes in, if he comes in, that's a different situation. Who knows what he does? I'm sure any new GM is going to try to make the team better in the way they want it to be."

As if there was any doubt through this mostly miserable November -- and last night in particular -- with a team that has won just twice in its past 10 games, there is plenty left for Burke to do.


Videos

Photos