"I keep hearing and reading about the 17 players we have under contract for next season," Burke said the other day. "Well, those 17 had better not get too comfortable.
"I'm not afraid to buy guys out. And I won't hesitate to send guys to the minors if they have a poor camp.
"I will do whatever it takes to do make this team better."
He already is taking measures to do exactly that.
With college free agents Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson already on board, Burke has turned his attention to Jonas Gustavsson, star goalie of the Swedish Elite league, and Matt Gilroy, the Boston University defenceman who won the Hobey Baker Award on Friday as the top player in U.S. college hockey.
While the Leafs and Sens were playing out the string, Burke was across the Atlantic meeting with Gustavsson's agent.
If you are to heed Burke's words, this is merely the beginning of the Great Maple Leafs Makeover.
With an eventful summer ahead, here is a look at what could be in store:
As the blue-and-white facelift forges ahead, no individuals will mean more than head coach Ron Wilson and assistants Tim Hunter, Rob Zettler and Keith Acton.
In a rebuilding year for a talent-shy roster, the development of the kids was particularly impressive, thanks to the teachings of the coaching staff. That trend will have to continue, especially with Bozak, Hanson and other rookies coming into the fold.
"I can't say enough about our staff," Burke said. "The progress of some of our young players is a reflection of the hard work of our coaches."
Reason enough to consider the staff the team MVPs.
IMPRESSING THE BOSS
Who made Burke sit up and take notice this year?
- Luke Schenn: "He's going to be around here for a long time."
- Mikhail Grabovski: "At the start of the season, he was a 60-foot player. He only knew how to play in the offensive end. Now, thanks to the coaches, he's a 200-foot player. He can play in any zone."
- Nikolai Kulemin: "Has a lot of raw skill. You could see the development."
- John Mitchell: "His work ethic is encouraging."
- Ian White: "His veteran leadership was impressive."
Burke insists he will not openly shop veteran defencemen Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina this off-season.
"But I will listen if there are interested parties that ask about (either player)," he said.
While Kaberle and Kubina both have no-movement clauses in their respective deals, those clauses become moot from June 26-Aug. 15.
At the same time, Burke said he would have to be "blown away" by any offer.
"If I move Tomas Kaberle, I'm going to be spending the rest of the summer attempting to acquire the same type of puck-moving defenceman," he said.
FREE AGENT FRENZY
Buckle up. With the arrival of free agency on July 1, Burke plans on pushing the envelope.
"We plan to be quite aggressive in free agency," he said.
Burke can't speculate on potential targets. So we'll do it for him.
Don't be surprised if he makes a hard pitch for the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik. It was Burke, then the GM of the Vancouver Canucks, who wheeled and dealed himself into position to pick the highly skilled brothers at the 1999 entry draft.
To this point, there is no certainty that the twins will re-sign with the Canucks.
Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester also is likely to be coveted by the Leafs. There have been suggestions that Bouwmeester, a Prairie boy at heart, might favour the Alberta-based teams, however.
Sens tough guy Chris Neil and Calgary Flames forward Mike Cammalleri are among the other possibilities.
All the while, Burke understands the salary cap will likely drop in future seasons. A recent report suggested Burke would not go over $6 million US for any player.
CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT
Burke always has been a busy man at the NHL entry draft -- the Sedins are a testament to that -- and this year's event, June 26-27, stands to be no different.
With the draft lottery taking place on Tuesday, the Leafs will have a chance to move up four spots. Whatever happens, they will pick in the top eight.
Brandon forward Brayden Schenn, younger brother of Luke, would be a nice fit, especially since Burke considers character to be a top priority in the draft.
At the same time, Burke is expected to take a run at the top overall pick (and John Tavares) by attempting to trade up. His trump card? The organization has the monetary resources to spice up a deal, especially with a financially strapped team.
For example, if the Tampa Bay Lightning ended up with the top pick, the Leafs could offer their first- and second- round picks and be willing to relieve the Lightning of Ryan Malone's whopping contract. Malone signed a seven-year, $31.5-million deal last summer, a contract that would scare off most teams.
The Leafs have money. And Burke. They plan to use both.