Brian Burke had to be fired for Leafs to flourish

Former Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)

Former Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:34 AM ET

The flag-wavers and career apologists have been tripping all over themselves lately to credit Brian Burke for the Maple Leafs’ first playoff season since Matt Stajan was a teenager.

Some of their assessments are accurate — the majority of the prominent players on the current Leafs roster were brought to Toronto by Burke. And the players who matter the most on the team — Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul and Jay McClement — came in Burke trades or signings. Also, coach Randy Carlyle, the single biggest difference-maker in this Maple Leafs season, was a Burke hire.

So yes, Burke’s fingerprints are all over this team. And yet, I wonder if there isn’t a smudge or two, wonder if this team could have or would have succeeded this season had Burke not been fired as general manager.


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