Two years of Burke - how much change?

Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

Monday marks the second anniversary of Brian Burke’s official hiring as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here’s betting he’s not doing a lot of celebrating these days, given the train wreck that is his team right now.

We’ll say this for Burke: Since taking over on Nov. 29, 2008, he’s left little doubt that no one wants this franchise to win more than him.

Whether he’s gone about it the right way, well, that’s where the second guessing comes in. And rightly so.

Watching Burke steam and agonize in the Leaf management box at Scotiabank Place on Saturday night, he looked like a guy who had munched on some bad burritos for lunch.

Truth be told, he was probably going over in his mind a couple of difficult questions he faces right now.

Questions that need to be answered in the near future.

First off, what is he going to do about this team’s pathetic offence? This team has been shut out five times thus far, a pace that would see them blanked about 18 times over the entire season.

Going into the offseason, Burke knew goal scoring was his team’s Achilles heel and attempted to address it. Yes, Clarke MacArthur has been a nice surprise. But Kris Versteeg has struggled, Colby Armstrong is hurt and the Leafs have scored once in their past three road games, including a 3-0 blanking at the hands of the Ottawa Senators Saturday.

Management specifically identified centre as a weak spot and it has played out that way.

They went with a rookie, Tyler Bozak, as the first line centre to start the year. Two months later, the kid looks lost. He missed a two-foot putt for an easy goal in the second period, then was demoted to the fourth line after one of his turnovers led to a 4-on-2 rush the other way for the Sens.

Mikhail Grabovski, the No. 2 centre who at times looks more like a figure skater than hockey player, misfired on numerous occasions and dragged his butt on the backcheck on the play leading directly to Mike Fisher’s first goal.

Yes, there is interest in Brad Richards, among others. But what do you give up?

Secondly, even though Burke keeps giving Ron Wilson and his coaching staff the thumb’s up, how long until his patience runs out as the losing continues?

The notion that “the coaches have nothing to work with” is a lame argument. This is the third season they have been in charge of the franchise. Just the fact that Vesa Toskala no longer is in goal is reason enough to think this team should be better.

A year ago, they finished dead last in penalty killing and power play. They came into Saturday’s game ranked 29th in penalty killing. Their power play is brutal again. There are different players on both units from a year ago, from two years ago. The common thread is the coaching staff. At some point, they must be accountable.

Moreover, the team continues to turn the puck over despite hours of work and lectures from the coaches stressing not to do it.

So, we ask again: Have the players stopped listening?

It has been 24 months since Burke took over the reigns. Whatever he decides to do, this much is certain: The long-suffering fans deserve better than this.

Much better.

BLEAK WEEK?

While spectators and media alike wonder what direction this team is going in, expect the city to go into a complete state of panic if the Leafs flop during the week ahead ... On Tuesday, Markham native Steve Stamkos comes to town, a kid who grew up loving the Leafs ... Two days later, the Edmonton Oilers are here. Imagine the outrage if they lose to the Oil, the only team that finished worse than Toronto a year ago ... And how about next Saturday when the Bruins visit? Tyler Seguin will make his first appearance at the Air Canada Centre in a Boston uniform — the same Tyler Seguin who was selected with one of the picks the Leafs surrendered for Phil Kessel ... Speaking of the Bruins, GM Peter Chiarelli, who holds Toronto’s first-round pick in 2011 as well, must be giddy at Toronto’s recent free fall. Speaking to Chiarelli prior to training camp, there was no way he figured that first-rounder might be a lottery pick. Now, well, nothing seems far fetched.

HEAD SCRATCHERS

A sign of the times? When Milan Michalek was being called on a delayed penalty in the third period, Leafs players sitting on the bench had to yell to Jonas Gustavsson to come out of the net for the extra attacker. Given the futility of the Leafs offence, maybe The Monster just figured his team wouldn’t score even with six skaters ... The early interference penalty to Fredrik Sjostrom was a weak call, to say the least. He barely nudged the Senator player ... Speaking of Sjostrom, he came in allegedly as a defensive/penalty killing specialist. The stats tend to tell a different story. He’s minus-4, has two points and the penalty killing is awful.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

On Friday, Nazem Kadri hit the knob of Ryan Miller’s stick. On Saturday, his stick snapped in half just as he was getting ready to unload from the high slot. Sooner or later, the kid has to get his first goal, doesn’t he? ... Too bad not every player out there is playing as hard as Kadri, Gustavsson and Luke Schenn. These guys deserve better.


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