Broad shoulders or not, Brian Burke is not going to take the responsibility for more than four decades of Maple Leafs futility.
But the straight-shooting general manager is willing to take the heat for the current state of the struggling franchise.
“Our fans, their calender isn’t two years,” Burke said Friday. “Their calender is 1967. That’s the problem here: The fans are frustrated by decades of failure.
“I can’t take any responsibility for anything that happened before I got here, but I do take responsibility for everything that has happened since. Right now, it’s not working, but I still believe in the group.”
Burke made his latest splash by promoting rookie Nazem Kadri on Friday as the team looks to snap out of its latest funk and avoid losing touch with the rest of the Eastern Conference after just 15 games of the current season.
Prior to the team’s lengthy practice in advance of Saturday’s contest against one of Burke’s former team, the Vancouver Canucks, he also had a meeting with the players something he does just two or three times a season.
“It’s between me and the team,” Burke said when asked about the nature of the summit. “It’s nobody’s business.”
As for criticism of the team and, more specifically, his role in it, Burke once again took ownership for the lack of success under his watch.
“Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago if they should give me a high grade for the job I’ve done and I said: ‘How could you do that when the team finished 29th?” Burke said.
“I think in time, people will see that the proper grade is incomplete. When we are scuffling like we are scuffling, it would be pretty foolish of me to stand up and say I’m doing a good job.
“If you want to take the bows when the team is winning, then you better face the music when the team is not winning,” he said. “I drive the bus. I decide who gets on the bus. I decide who gets off the bus. If the bus is stuck in the ditch, then ultimately that’s my responsibility.”