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Burke: Leafs are just “fine-tuning” now

Dec 15, 2011, 4:39 PM EDT

Brian Burke Getty Images

A nip here, a tuck there, and the Maple Leafs will be good to go.

That’s the message Brian Burke had for the Toronto Star in a wide-ranging interview.

“We’re looking at fine-tuning now,” the Leafs’ president and general manager told the Star.

“When we first got here, it was all major surgery. It was all M.A.S.H. unit stuff. It was all triage. Now, really, you’re looking at cosmetic surgery — maybe a little lipo.”

Burke didn’t specify which blobs of fat he’d suck out of the Leafs, but go ahead and enjoy the visual.

What’s interesting is the fact Burke believes the Leafs are at the “fine-tuning” stage, as if they’re right on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup. Toronto is one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL. It has the league’s 30th-ranked penalty kill. It’s heavily reliant on one line to do the scoring. Its starting goaltender has 45 NHL starts to his resume.

But I guess that’s the team’s he’s assembled, so what else is he going to say about it?

Of course, no wide-ranging interview with Brian Burke is complete without a mention of the media.

Suddenly, Burke is in full-scowl mode, which raises a question. Both the GM and coach Ron Wilson have tangled with the media during their time in Toronto. But now that the team is owned by Rogers and Bell, which in turn also own prominent media properties, will Burke be reluctant to wage war with the people who cover his team?

“I don’t pick those fights,” Burke says. “The media pick those fights. My relationship with the media is excellent. With certain members of the media that, in my mind, aren’t professional, it’s not very good and it never will be. I don’t ever want to be on good terms with unprofessional people. And if that means we have a clash with people who work for the owners, then we have a clash. I’m not going to change how I do things based on who owns the team.”

The Leafs are in Buffalo tomorrow, then host the Canucks Saturday in a battle between the only two Canadian teams that would qualify for the playoffs if they started today. With a little “fine-tuning,” maybe we’ll be watching a Stanley Cup final preview.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 15, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    I get what he’s saying. There is some work left to do, but really they are a couple of players and a few developmental years away from legitimate contention.

    Reimer may only have 45 starts but he knows how to play the position and is only going to get better at it with more experience. Every elite goalie only had “45 NHL starts to his resume” at some point.

    I get that knocking the Leafs is a national pastime outside of the GTA but they are getting close to being a perennial playoff team again. Get used to that fact.

    • petriskriko - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:31 AM

      There are more non-elite goalies that once had 45 starts than elite ones.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:12 AM

        What? Every goalie that’s ever played a full season has at one point only had 45 starts.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:15 AM

        Nevermind, I get what you’re saying. Reimer may or not become an elite goalie, but saying he only has 45 starts is still a pretty weak knock on him.

  2. haterzgonahate - Dec 15, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    i wouldn’t be the least surprised to see the Leafs make a long playoff run.. perhaps even the cup finals.

    of all 6 post lockout Canadian teams (not including Winnipeg) 4 have made it to the Stanley cup Finals since the lockout except for Toronto and Montreal. is this just a coincidence? or an attempt to please the real money making fan bases and ownerships of the profit sharing Canadian teams?

    ya that’s right… conspiracy theory and i’m NOT from Vancouver..

  3. scotloucks - Dec 15, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    My my …. a little sarcastic aren’t we.

    I have no problem with his comment. Lets see what happens when Brown (one of their better PK guys) and Komisarek (another shot blocker/PK guy) return.

    The Leafs need to be better on the PK. That is a given. That happens and all of a sudden their “worst defensive teams in the league” status changes … no?

    They are one of the best 5 on 5 teams in the league.

    As for Burke having problems with certain members of the media … (that would be Simmons, Berger and now whoever it was that called Reimers mom) …. big deal. As proven in most articles and talking head coverage of the Leafs, the MSM ask stupid questions and are pretty much clueless (in Toronto).

    I’d suggest the author of the article only proves my point.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:10 AM

      Jason is just trying to make himself feel like a real hockey writer by bashing the Leafs. To be fair, its what most of them do. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say in about 4 – 5 years when the Leafs are making playoff runs again and the Canucks are bottom-feeders.

      • petriskriko - Dec 16, 2011 at 1:29 AM

        Actually I think that was his point. The Leafs, as you admit, are still a few years away. Hockey writers don’t sit around conspiring against your team. But whatever makes you feel better.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 2:11 AM

        It sounds more like he’s saying they have a lot of holes and are are not simply a bit of fine tuning away from contention. I’m not suggesting writers conspire against my team but the Toronto media likes to bash the team and the brass more than anything else. I think Jason wishes he was a real hockey writer and is just trying to emulate what the real writers in Toronto do when talking about the Leafs

      • Jason Brough - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM

        One day I’ll be a “real” hockey writer and I’ll show you!

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:06 PM

        Looking forward to it JB. No disrespect meant by any of my comments. It’s good to see someone who has a sense of humour and an appreciation for Christmas Vacation here

  4. lameasish - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    Their goalie only has 45 starts? What is he suppose to do? Age 10 years suddenly so he can have more starts?….smh

    • petriskriko - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:12 PM

      You serious?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:48 AM

        “Hey, Kids, I heard on the news that an airline pilot spotted Santa’s sleigh on its way in from New York City.”

        “You serious, Clark?”

  5. jwpadley - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.

    • Jason Brough - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      Looks great…little full…lotta sap

  6. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

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