Burke builds battles

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

If the Maple Leafs locker room ever was a country club, Brian Burke has torn up the membership cards.

With his off-season acquisitions, the Leafs general manager has promised training camp will be a battleground.

"The biggest thing we've done (is create) competition here for the first time in a long time," Burke said yesterday of his work the past week. "If you are coming to training camp and your only concern is where you're going to sit on the bus or who your roommate is going to be, you are not going to get the level of push you need to excel.

"Part of the problem here has been this entitlement that players feel. We need job security issues and I think we've got those now."

Among those expected to be pushed will be goaltender Vesa Toskala, who only had to fight off a goalie on the downside of his career, Curtis Joseph, this past season.

PUSH NEEDED

"Vesa is like any other athlete ... he needs a little competition, a little push from behind," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "Hopefully he'll get back to playing the way everyone thinks he can."

While Burke made it clear Toskala will feel some heat, he said that the Finn has recovered quickly from late-season surgery and is ready to fight for his No. 1 status.

"I think Vesa will respond very favourably," Burke said.

Meanwhile, Burke acknowledged the team is being investigated by the league for tampering charges after seemingly harmless comments made by Wilson a week ago suggesting the team might bid for Daniel and Henrik Sedin if they were to become free agents.

"It's in the league's hands," Burke said. "We don't like tampering and if they fine us or our coach, you're not going to hear a peep out of us.

"But if you read the comments carefully, it's hardly a blanket statement that we are going to do this or we are going to do that.

"If we tampered, we're pretty poor at it because those two kids are still sitting in Vancouver."


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