October 6, 2010
Leafs Nation deserves better
By JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency
ďThe Sun has great value if you own a puppy or a parakeetĒ ó Brian Burke Tuesday on Sportsnetís Hockey Central.
If anybody should know about icing a team of dogs that was for the birds, it should be Brian Burke.
For a guy who led his team to 29th place in the NHL last season, and who traded away two potential first-round lottery draft picks, perhaps the Leafs loud-mouth GM should criticize his own performance.
But Bombastic Brian loves to talk. Heís got some good lines, too. Scribes love Burkie. Better than a boring GM.
But itís time to put up or shut up.
Leafs Nation doesnít care what newspaper he disrespects as long as he gets his job done. He has another chance to show that starting tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.
No pressure. Itís just the beginning of 44th year without a Stanley Cup and the seventh year without playing a single playoff game. None of that is the fault of the fans. Or the media!
We get it that Burke and his sour-puss coach, Ron Wilson, think people here donít understand hockey, and that they are wiser. What they donít seem to understand is we can pick a huckster out of a crowd pretty fast, too. We have experience.
What neither has also figured out is in this Leafs-crazed town you donít have to scream to gain attention for yourself, humiliate players or to mask your own questionable decisions.
You just have to whisper.
The truth is the dog, bird and pony show is over and fans are anxious for Burke and Wilson to deliver something other than bravado and brimstone. If they know how to make the Maple Leafs a winner, itís time for them to prove it.
No more excuses, no more benefits of the doubt and no more patience. No more honeymoon.
Itís time for this Maple Leafs team to make the playoffs or come within a roll of tape of it.
Leafs Nation is owed that and Leafs Nation deserves that.
But does Leafs Nation expect that?
This time of year there is always hope as I found out once again while attending the grand opening of the impressive Maple Leafs Square Wednesday which had former captains Wendel Clark and Darryl Sittler signing autographs.
ďI think they are going to make it,Ē says fan Justin Wortzman. ďBut I have said that for six years.Ē
Jose Mendez countered, saying ďI think itís going to be tough.Ē
A Toronto Stanley Cup has not only been elusive in the lifetimes of brothers, Moses, 12, and Joshua, 9, but for their parents, too.
Maybe Burke can change this. He has put together a better team for sure and this is why they play the games. Maybe they will be the surprise of the league. It will surprise few if we end up for a seventh straight spring without playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Leafs have their beautiful two new condo towers built, the best sports bar around open, a cool new Longoís grocery store with a boutique hotel to follow.
Itís all good but fans want a cup. The truth is Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) does most everything right ó off the ice. They are charitable and they help build the city. MLSE is a great employer and envied entertainment company.
However, for any of that to matter, they must win on the ice.
This is why Burke is here and whether he likes it or not the Toronto Sun, and our team of amazing sports writers, editors and photographers, is the go-to place for Leafs fans. One thing the Sun, which will turn 39 next month, has never had on its front page is a picture of a Maple Leafs captain holding up a Stanley Cup.
If Burkieís Maple Leafs are the first, Iíll bet he wonít be using that edition for bird cage liner or to clean up after Fido.