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Boston’s GM hopes you don’t judge Brian Burke on the Kessel trade alone

Feb 3, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli AP

When former Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was fired before the start of the season, one thing many did was go over his legacy in Toronto. Part of that is scrutinizing any and all the deals he made during his tenure and the one to bring Phil Kessel to the Leafs from Boston stands out for a few big reasons, namely Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli says it’s not fair to judge him based on that deal alone. Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun has that story.

“When you are in this job, we all have made deals that we’d like to have back. We’ve all made deals that we’d like to have a do-over on.

“I’m not saying Brian feels that way about the (Kessel) trade. I don’t know that. I mean, they got a 35-goal scorer out of the deal.”

“Obviously, you can’t gauge a deal until all the pieces are in place and we see how everyone does long-term,” Chiarelli explained.

Since we’re all about snap judgments, it sure seems like the Bruins won that deal. That’s not to say Burke didn’t make other moves to the benefit of the Leafs, he did. Getting Jake Gardiner, Joffrey Lupul, Mikhail Grabovski, and James van Riemsdyk in separate deals all showed how good he was at making trades.

Like Chiarelli said though, sometimes there’s one you want to have back.

  1. shezbot - Feb 3, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Grabovski was acquired by Interim GM Cliff Fletcher, not Brian Burke.

  2. odj810 - Feb 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    does someone feel a little guilty? I think he knows how that single trade greatly affected each franchise. And in turn there fates as GM’s. Kessel’s a goal scorer. phil savard and lucic were an awsome line. I couldn’t believe we traded him when it happened but i looked at what we got in return and was ok with it as a fan. never did i imagine the number 2 and 9 overall picks.

  3. govtminion - Feb 3, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    One trade isn’t enough to judge a guy on- those of us who feel Burke was fired with cause (despite the strange timing) are doing so based on several years of attempting and failing to build a playoff team. He gave up a ton to get Kessel, no doubt, and to a division rival to boot, but he also got a very good player out of it in Kessel. No, I don’t judge him on one bad trade.

    Besides, if we hang that one on Burke, we have to counter it with his fleecing Chiarelli on the Tomas Kaberle trade a couple of years back, right? Speaking as a Bruins fan, that one still sticks in my mind as a bad trade on OUR end.

    • drewsylvania - Feb 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Indeed, the Kaberle trade was nearly as bad as the Kessel trade.

      • drewsylvania - Feb 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        It wasn’t?

      • odj810 - Feb 3, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        it wasn’t due to the circumstances that followed the trade. The bruins won the cup in spite of kaberle. the bruins lost a late first rounder and colborne who may not ever be the player we all thought he could be. A very small margin of error for these gm’s. If colborne turned into a dominating power foward we’d be singing a different tune.

      • hockeyflow33 - Feb 3, 2013 at 3:28 PM

        No it wasn’t. Kaberle tied for the team lead in assists on the way to winning a Cup.

      • drewzducks - Feb 3, 2013 at 5:31 PM

        That’s ok…I picked up on your sarcasm.

  4. shezbot - Feb 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Raycroft for Rask was far worse for Toronto than Kessel for two firsts (Seguin & Hamilton), and a second (Knight). There is no doubt the price for Kessel ended up being incredibly high, but at least the Leafs got something tangible as opposed to the terrible result of the Raycroft trade. The fact that Raycroft then got the most games won in a Leafs jersey in a season was purely the fact that he played a ridiculous amount of games that year. The Raycroft trade, then prompted them to overpay in goal again in the Toskala trade, and have not had a stable net presence ever since.

    • habssuck - Feb 3, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Just what I was about to say. You can’t judge him on the Kessel trade alone, factor Rask into it and there is more than enough evidence to can him!

      The kaberle trade remins to be seen, if Colbourne does anything in the NHL Burke made out on that one.

  5. nunan - Feb 3, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    You can’t say they traded Kessel for Seguin and Hamilton. They traded Kessel for two first round picks and Burke obviously felt his team would improve, not nose dive and give the Bs a 2nd and a 9th pick. It was a gamble and he had faith in his team. Nothing wrong with that. People would be calling it a trade the Leaf’s won if instead the Bs got two 20th picks. As for Raycroft, he was young and legit at the time of that trade. Seemed like a good deal. Trade a proven young talent for an unproven young talent, in Rask. Bruins definitely got hammered on the Kaberle deal. They won the cup despite his play and they gave up someone they were grooming in Colbourne. Serious question, what is Colbourne doing? Is he going to make that roster at some point?

    • thesableo - Feb 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Decent point about Burke not expecting his team and Raycroft to tank in both instances. But if I remember correctly, Rask was the #1 goaltending prospect in the world at the time of the trade. Burke was essentially trading the future for the present, and given that Toronto was not a playoff team when they made that trade (or, obviously, since) I don’t see how that was a good move. Especially since Raycroft was not “proven”- he had posted a .879 SV% the year before. That’s why the Bruins traded him.

    • thesableo - Feb 3, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      You know what, I totally missed this. But Burke was not even responsible for the Rask/Raycroft trade. That (important point) aside, my argument remains. Bad trade for Toronto at the time.

  6. phillyphanatic77 - Feb 3, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Easy for Chiarellii to say, he’s furthered his own reputation by basically stealing Seguin and Hamilton for a one-dimensional player. Most agree the deal was a fleece job. Kessel is a good player but he’s not the type you give up that much for, even at his age with his upside. I guess Burke thought those picks would be late first rounders but his team only proved him wrong. He should’ve rented a barn for he and Chiarellii after that deal was consummated.

    • hockeyflow33 - Feb 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      His one dimension is scoring….it’s not very easy to find a pure goal scorer

    • thesableo - Feb 3, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      I’m really glad someone brought up the barn incident. Easily my favorite Brian Burke story of all time.

  7. misterchainbluelightning - Feb 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Bad judgement, ego, impatience and arrogance sent the Leafs back a long ways. 100% all on Burke

    As stated above the Kaberle trade or no trade was a bad scene, people actually wanted him badly and Burkie figured his team could win something and held onto him a year and a half too long and the offers got worse.

    Oh and then LOL how people forgot the Burkie also sent out Rask for Raycroft, thank you shezbot
    Holy sweet mother of God

    I will never in my life understand how a single Leafs fan can ever not refer to Burke as the worst GM in team history. Much much worse than Fergie.

    • babar61 - Feb 3, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      Burke didn’t send raycroft for rask, that was JFJ. I also think JFJ was way worse then Burke. That guy left the leafs with nothing but a crap load of over priced no trade clause contracts.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Feb 3, 2013 at 11:02 PM

        AH ya it was Fergie that traded Rask. But one of those NTC’s really cost the Leafs anything. They were a mild pain and nothing compared to trading away multiple 1st rounders.

  8. vahockeyguy - Feb 3, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    All I know is that the Toronto team built by Burke that I watched play Boston last night didn’t look all that bad….

    • habssuck - Feb 3, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      Aside from the fact they could not generate any real scoring opportunities or get any goals, they were fantastic!

  9. rbern11162 - Feb 3, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Burke wasn’t general manager when the bruins fleeced the maple leafs of rask . Burke came on board 2 years after that trade was made .

    • bigoldorcafromvan - Feb 3, 2013 at 10:56 PM

      Burke made Calgary alot better when he traded for Phanuef. Made Calgary faster and stronger.

      • govtminion - Feb 4, 2013 at 12:19 AM

        Not that I’m arguing, but it doesn’t seem to be helping the Flames too much to be rid of him…

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