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Columnist wonders if Bettman warned Burke about lengthy lockout

Oct 14, 2012, 5:41 PM EDT

Brian Burke AP

Did Gary Bettman give his old pal (and Toronto Maple Leafs GM) Brian Burke a heads up about the lockout canceling a full season?

Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons asks that question while reviewing a quiet offseason for the Leafs:

In the most inactive summer of Brian Burke’s time running the Maple Leafs, you have to wonder: What did his friend, Gary Bettman, tell him about the coming season?

And can Burke’s quiet approach to making over the Leafs be attributed in any way to a belief there will not be an NHL season?

Burke never went out and acquired the veteran goaltender he said he wasn’t going to get at the end of last season. He wasn’t in any way aggressive in the free agent market, which is understandable considering the mistakes made in the past. He never found the first-line centre he hoped for — and has this odd belief that James van Riemsdyk, a winger with talent and marginal success, can be that centre.

Naturally, there’s an easy counterargument for that: perhaps Burke didn’t identify a No. 1 center or veteran netminder in free agency.

(Few would venture that there were many – if any – free agents who met either description this past summer. Then again, this is Toronto.)

Simmons also points out that the team isn’t paying for the final season of problematic contract’s such as Tim Connolly‘s deal.

A retort for that is simple as well; wouldn’t Burke need to see the lockout coming years ahead of time to plan such a caper? Similarly, wouldn’t it be a sign of coherent management if a GM at least accounted for a possible lockout?

It’s tough to imagine the league giving one GM a head’s up – even of a franchise as crucial as the Maple Leafs. Do you think Simmons might be onto something, though?

  1. t16rich - Oct 14, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Toronto sports media should all fall into a massive sinkhole. They just love throwing out these ridiculous opinions. If you’re a sports “reporter” who loves to gossip like a 13 year old girl, then Toronto news papers have a job for you.

  2. sheckyrimshot - Oct 14, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    maybe he’s just a crappy GM..

    • superross - Oct 14, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      I love watching the Laughs lose, so I think he is a great GM!

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 14, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      Hardly. He’s got them tied for 1st overall in the NHL. And we’re already into mid-October.

  3. silversun60 - Oct 14, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Steve Simmons is the worst.

    And I don’t just mean sports reporter. He is the worst everthing… ever… always.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Oct 14, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      I was going to say “Steve Simmons is an idiot” nbut I believe you summed it up well so I’ll defer to you!

  4. alexb64 - Oct 14, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    This assumes quite a bit, first & foremost that knowing there would be a lockout was privileged information, which it was not. Also working against his theory is that Burke WAS actively pursuing new players just maybe not exclusively via the free agent market.

    • blomfeld - Oct 15, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      “Don’t let the “theatrics” of a few “wealthy” New York parasites send you running for the hills … President Barack Obama

      Those are actually “my” words and not the President’s ! :) Nonetheless, I say “bravo” to O’Brien for pursuing this bold line of thinking. Yes it’s indeed quizzical how Burke has done essentially nothing, despite the fact that his own job must now be very much in jeopardy ? In fact, I suspect that similar cases of “fence sitting” could be found with virtually every other team around the league ? Here in Vancouver, you need to look no further than the case of Roberto Luongo. He and his massive “lame duck” contract represent a “Titanic-sized” liability for the team, yet all summer long all we heard from Gillis is that “it’s no big deal” and that “there’s no need to rush” etc ? It’s said that sometimes “actions can speak louder than words”. Well also true is the fact the sometimes “a lack of action” can speak louder than words.

      The bottom line is that I believe the owners know “exactly” what’s going on here … and I believe that they know “exactly” how this is all going to play out and when. I also believe that a deal has already been written up, with the full consent of Fehr and his top lieutenants, despite the fact that it likely amounts to nothing short of a “diktat” as far as the players are concerned ? Nonetheless, this document “will” be announced and signed as per Bettman’s stipulated schedule, which I suspect will occur sometime within the next 14-16 days.

      *** special video selection for James O’Brien ***

  5. habsman - Oct 14, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    Tanking for MacKinnon.

  6. blomfeld - Oct 14, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    “Do you think Simmons might be onto something, though?” …

    “……………………………………………….” >:->

  7. HawaiiHockey - Oct 14, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    Is it just me, or does it seem like a whole lot of pro-owner bots- er, I mean people- are speaking up all of a sudden?

    • comeonnowguys - Oct 15, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      Someone who agrees with you: Truth to power.
      Someone who disagrees with you: Paid shill.

      Sound about right?

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