Re-Leaf in sight?

TIM BAINES, DON BRENNAN, BRAD FRITSCH AND CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

4 on 1: Ottawa Sun Hockey Experts Debate the Issues of the Day

DON BRENNAN: In honour of Brad's initial digital faceoff, I will use a golf analogy. Brian Burke is a 6 iron when what the Leafs need is a driver. Hang on a second, I think I even know what that means ...

BRAD FRITSCH: I don't think anyone knows what that means, Don ...

TIM BAINES: Brad, you will find that Don often says things that he doesn't know the meaning of. He makes up words and misspells others.

FRITSCH: Well, I think it actually lessens the impetus to "win now." The Leafs now have someone with an established track record of building solid teams. He's not interim (Cliff Fletcher) and he's not a green GM (JFJ). As far as the Battle of Ontario, Burke is a really easy guy to hate and I'm sure he'll fan the flames early and often.

BRENNAN: I see we're taking our game to a new level here. Pretty sure Bruce has never used the word impetus.

CHRIS STEVENSON: Welcome, Brad. Being part of this roundtable is a lot like playing golf with Don. He often takes a circuitous route to the target.

FRITSCH: Thanks. But Don doesn't ask others to hit his shots for him, does he? Because with that analogy, he's asking us to fill in the blanks ...

BRENNAN I would never attack Fritschie's golf game. Watching and walking with him for 36-plus holes as he qualified for the U.S. Open remains one of the favourite sports events I've attended. His consistency through 35 holes was unbelievable. And then I loved the way he toyed with the field by duffing his tee shot on the 36th hole, only to win in sudden death. It was strokes of genius.

FRITSCH: How'd I know you would bring that up?

BAINES: The thing with the Leafs is they're not long on talent, but Ron Wilson has them working their asses off. That's not something the Senators, with much superior talent, can say every night. I'm betting Burke continues the dirty job that Cliff Fletcher started -- clear out the dead wood.

BRENNAN You don't know that the Leafs work harder than the Senators, Tim. That's just one more of the ridiculous things you say. Does it LOOK that way? Maybe sometimes, yes. But you say it as fact. You don't know how hard I work, you don't know how hard the Senators work.

FRITSCH: It's about optics. Like how the Big 3 auto execs flew in their private jets to Washington. Does Spezza LOOK like he's working hard? (See the two penalties in the offensive zone last night)

BAINES: Don, I often wonder how hard you work. I've seen the Leafs play more than a few times. That should entitle me to the opinion that they LOOK like they are working harder. Does that make you feel better? I feel good about the Leafs. As someone who has cheered for them since 1967, it LOOKS like they're heading in the right direction, finally, after a couple of years of mismanagement.

FRITSCH: You're right, Tim, they do display a consistently sound work ethic. You can trash the Sens teams in the past for that, but I think I see a trend in the last four games. They consistently outchance their opponents, and once they start getting a few bounces (and fewer disallowed goals), they'll start to roll. As far as the Leafs go, I believe that Burke will be able to sign a couple of high-dollar players, and combine that with their current core, they will be headed in the right direction.

BRENNAN: I do agree that Burke will be great for the Battle of Ontario, if and when it ever heats up again. I'm expecting a pretty good war of words between Brian (Burke) and Bryan (Murray) at some point.

BAINES: If Murray and Burke got into a scrap, who would win?

STEVENSON: I'll take the guy from Shawville over the Ivy League guy every time.

BRENNAN: The Shawville boy would destroy the Harvard grad in 10 seconds.

FRITSCH: Nah, Murray would take too long to make a decision on what to do, and Burke would fire away really fast.

STEVENSON: How is Burke only a 6-iron, Don? In the golf bag of GMs -- to carry your weak golf analogy further -- he's at least a fairway wood. The last 13 Cups have been won by a group of just seven GMs and he's one of them.

FRITSCH: Do you have an obscure hockey facts website that you find these things on?

STEVENSON: No, I actually took a little break to do the research there. I know, I know, a radical approach in this forum, backing up an argument with facts.

BRENNAN: Nice of you to rejoin us Chris. Sorry to be speaking over your head again. I wasn't comparing Burke to other GMs. I was pointing out that he is more than just a few yards from reaching out and touching another Cup. Bold prediction: Toronto is not winning one soon. Now, shall I dumb it up for you from now on, Chris?

BAINES: Dumbing it up is usually no problem for you, Don. Spelling, on the other hand ...

FRITSCH: Isn't it dumbing it DOWN?

STEVENSON: Oh, no, I just agreed with Don. He has dumbed me down ... or up.

BAINES: That "horrible" Leafs team is tied with the Senators right now? Will Ottawa win a Cup before the Leafs?

BRENNAN Ottawa might win a Cup before the Leafs make the playoffs again, Tim. And the Bruins will win two.

FRITSCH: The Bruins? Don, you need to go research that one ... I'm not seeing that.

BRENNAN Oh you're not? Tilt your head up a little. They're the team at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. By the way, Tim. Peter Chiarelli would tune Burke up pretty good, too.

STEVENSON: Yeah, there's a scrap everyone wants to see. Two Harvard lawyers throwing their habeas corpus around.

BRENNAN As for the three stars of this debate? 1. Me, 2. Fritschie, 3. Me.

STEVENSON: Those are some homer selections. That's like the home team that loses 3-1 having two guys picked as stars. In this case, both are Don.


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