Francois Allaire's departure from Maple Leafs must hurt Brian Burke

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency file photo)

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency file photo)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:14 AM ET

TORONTO - Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke probably didn’t take any dead language courses during his time at Harvard Law School. But if he did, no doubt the first words out of his mouth Monday morning would have been “Et tu, Francois?”

Talk about waking up with a knife in your back.

Burke hired Francois Allaire to be the Leafs goaltending coach back in June of 2009, gushing to anyone who would listen that Allaire was the best goalie coach in the world.

Last February, when the Leafs were mired in a slump and the media began to blame Allaire for the team’s problems, Burke passionately defended his goaltending coach.

“His name’s on the Cup,” said Burke. “I have seen what he has done with young goalies.”

And then this off-season, despite three years of only mixed results with young goalies like James Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens, the Leafs offered Allaire a contract extension — even though the team finished with the second-worst goals-against average in the NHL.

So how does Allaire repay all this loyalty? By stabbing him in the back.

“I didn’t feel like I could do my job last year,” Allaire told the National Post. “I wasn’t getting enough ice time. I wasn’t the only guy with (the goalies). It’s not fair to the kids, not fair to me, not fair to anybody … I didn’t feel like I could work in this situation.”

Basically Allaire suggested there were too many coaches whispering in the young goaltenders’ ears. And while that very well might have been the case, why whine about it? Did Allaire take these concerns up with Burke during the season? Or with head coaches Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle? And if he did, why not just leave quietly? He collected a nice pay cheque for three years.

Toronto is probably the only city in the world (perhaps with the exception of Montreal and Vancouver) where the departure of a goaltending coach would cause such a sensation.

Given as much, perhaps Burke should be grateful that training camp is not going to open later this week. The last thing the Leafs would have needed heading into a new season is a coaching controversy.

Burke is nothing if not loyal. He gave his pal Ron Wilson a one-year contract extension last December, less than three months before showing him the door. Burke loves to pick fights with media and even the fans at times, but when it comes to the guys working for him, he’s like a Praetorian Guard.

So it must have just killed him to hear what Allaire had to say.

Still, Allaire’s departing shot is nothing compared to what his happening over in Europe.

Technically speaking, guys like Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby — who have all signed on to play, or have expressed interest in playing, overseas — owe nothing to their brethren in the KHL or other professional leagues in Europe. But is taking a job away from some poor sap in the Russian or Swiss League the right thing to do?

If you’re taking a stand against the nasty NHL owners, take a stand. Isn’t part of taking a stand, and standing up for what you believe is right, enduring the hardships that go with it — in the NHL players’ case, not being able to play at a high level or collect a pay cheque?

So why go over to Europe and take away somebody’s job? Is there not something fundamentally wrong there? Don’t players in Europe count for anything? Just because they’re not NHL stars, they don’t matter?

Hey, the poor sap who gets cut from Metallurg to allow Malkin to play probably needs the money a helluva lot more than Malkin does.

Shouldn’t there be some loyalty between brethren, even though they’re not in the same union?

I guess it’s a bit much to expect any kind of loyalty in pro sports anymore. We’ve certainly seen evidence of that this week.


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