Burke laments lack of superstars

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Neither the Maple Leafs nor the Vancouver Canucks have a player that is electrifying enough to sell tickets on their own.

That was the contention of Toronto general manager Brian Burke, who caused more than a few observers to scratch their heads at that statement during his address at the local Board of Trade here in Vancouver yesterday.

The Leafs? OK, that's a legitimate point.

But what of Roberto Luongo, the all-star goalie of the Canucks who, while off to a lukewarm start, has been getting his game back into shape recently?

"I was talking about players who sell tickets and I don't think he sells tickets," Burke told reporters afterward. "He's the best goalie in the game right now, though he might have had some recent problems. He's the best goalie in the NHL and he's a great player.

"My point is that a lot of great players don't sell tickets. I don't think Nicklas Lidstrom sells tickets and he's a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer. I think my team's the same -- we don't have anybody who sells tickets."

Then who did?

"A player like Pavel Bure sold a lot of tickets," Burke maintained.

Phil the Thrill

While Phil Kessel continues to participate in practice, he has yet to be cleared for full contact as of yet.

In a best-case scenario, Kessel could be back by the first week of November, although he is not ready to make predictions.

As for all the critics who feel the Boston Bruins aced the Kessel trade because they might land the No. 1 overall draft selection this year by holding the top pick of the slumping Leafs, Kessel replied: "I don't listen to that stuff. I still think we have a good team. We just haven't shown it yet."


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