April 12, 2011
Leafs not in sharing mood
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Leafs won’t share pie
While insiders with the National Hockey League and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. concede another team in the Toronto area will happen eventually, it won’t be for a long time.
So Brian Burke was quick to pounce Tuesday when asked about a University of Toronto study that says the Golden Horseshoe can support more NHL clubs.
“I think it’s a pile of Golden Horse-something,” the general manager snorted. “It’s nice that some university does this. (But) when the league feels the time is appropriate, then make the case that your not unduly harming our franchise, without crippling Buffalo, without hurting Detroit.
“The Red Wings advertise as far east as London, Ont. Detroit has 24% unemployment. No one has done that (study the threat to current teams) to this point and now they’re saying two or three more teams? They (authors of the study) aren’t in our industry, they don’t understand.
“People say there’s a waiting list for tickets here, but there’s not 18,000 people on it, folks. There’s not a whole building on our waiting list. We have unsold inventory in our building in terms of suites.”
Breaking up the gang
Coach Ron Wilson said he tried to stamp out ‘Blue and White Disease’, a culture of entitlement he believed was harming the Leafs dressing room. For his part, Burke says the dramatic turnover in personnel by him has made the Leafs more accountable to each other.
“We had cliques on the team when I came,” Burke said. “I think we’ve destroyed those. They are decisive. This group gets along, they respect each other and they socialize.”
Speaking of life outside the ACC, Burke says he’s tired of having today’s Leafs lumped in with those sorry clubs who struggled or missed the playoffs completely the past 44 years.
“This group of athletes doesn’t have to defend six (non-playoff) years, doesn’t have to talk about 1967,” Burke said. “The most frustrating part for me in this market is that you expect this group to apologize for failures that occurred before they even got here. It’s not right. These athletes can’t carry that weight.
“I hold them accountable (only) from the day they got here. I’ll take responsibility for the (non-playoff years) on my watch. I know fans are frustrated. But their clock is different than ours. Ours is set on a championship with this group.”
Orr back in the water
Colton Orr was not seen and hardly heard from after getting concussed in a Jan. 20 fight with George Parros of the Ducks. But Burke said Tuesday he will be back. The team was in constant discussion with Dr. Karen Johnston of Montreal, a leading authority in the field, and her advice was to hold Orr out until next season.
“He was basically cleared to play,” Burke said. “But we respect Dr. Johnston. She felt it best to give him the summer to recover as well. He was pretty well restored to all the levels he needed to be.
“The last question I ask our doctor about a player coming back from a serious injury is ‘if this were your son, would you let him back on the ice?’. Dr. Johnston said she would prefer to wait and that’s fine with us.”
Feeling a draft
The Leafs head into the draft in St. Paul, Minn., in June with 11 picks, the first choices of the Bruins and Flyers, their second, Philly’s third, their own fourth and fifth, three in sixth and two in the seventh. Burke wants to keep one of the first two top-rounders and the second, but will trade one of the high choices to move up or get a forward.
“There are no headliners in this draft, no Ovechkins, no Sedins,” Burke cautioned. “There are good players, but we like the depth, that’s why we’re going to keep two picks.”