You may not want to read about our General Manager again. If that's the case (and I understand), here are some other recent posts...
- Since we all could use some hope, how about 15 positives for the Leafs going forward
- 12 reason why missing the playoffs this spring is particularly painful for Leaf fans
- Why a player with some of Tim Tebow's qualities may be a good thing for the Maple Leafs
- Hopefully the Carlyle Leafs won't be quite as dull next season as they have been some nights lately
I was actually not going to write today. There’s not much new to discuss, and I’m sure people who visit here are tired of my ongoing frustration with the direction of the franchise and, to me, as importantly, the endless bafflegab that emanates seemingly daily from MLSE hockey offices.
But some things you just can’t let stand.
Those who saw a Toronto Star (I think it was the Star, correct me if I'm off) column on Tuesday may have noted that Brian Burke was quoted essentially as saying that Francois Allaire is a great goalie coach ("he has his name on the Cup") and will be back with the team next season.
That’s not news. I don’t imagine anyone suspected anything different. Allaire is Burke’s guy.
But the laughable part of the conversation, as it was quoted in the Star, at least, was the following: when Burke basically said, “first they went after my coach. Then they went after me. Now they’re going after Allaire…”.
I don't know who "they" refers to. Honest to goodness, I don’t know who was unfair to Ron Wilson in this market. He coached the team for four seasons and they never made the playoffs. I could not name a mainstream media person (and in truth, I do not read the daily newspapers regularly so I have missed a lot of opinion pieces, I'm sure) who was unduly harsh when it came to Wilson’s coaching. Maybe you can correct me on that.
I mean, people wrote about the team’s special teams issues, and their lack of overall success, but that’s normal stuff to write about. You couldn't miss that, even as a fan. And when some media folks finally did talk about the need to dismiss Wilson (I think a Globe columnist did, but again, let me know if I'm off base), given the team’s plight, that would happen in any sport, in any market where fans care about the team missing the playoffs every year. Standard stuff. Nothing personal. Performance criticism goes the the territory of being an NHL coach- or General Manager.
As for the Allaire reference, Burke said no one was complaining about him when Gustavsson played so well in December.
Well, I can’t speak for other commentators, but those of you who follow this space know that I’ve been publicly expressing reservations (click to read an example) about Gus and his development in this market—but more particularly with this team and under Allaire’s tutetage—for ages. Click on Gustavsson’s name on the right-hand side of the column and you’ll see all kinds of posts on that subject.
This just smacks of yet more bluster, and sadly, it comes across as a GM with an inflated sense of self-worth (I mean, he’s a hockey guy, c’mon. Burke is a sports and entertainment industry executive who makes millions of dollars a season…let’s not take ourselves too seriously here) who seems to have a persecution complex, as in “why is everyone picking on me?”.
Here’s my simple answer: it’s not everybody else. It’s not the media. (Surely he’s not worried about no-name bloggers, c'mon...) Just look at Burke's two big “re-build” opportunities where he was given a free slate, a completely free hand to do whatever he wanted, with all the money he could spend (Vancouver and Toronto). The result? A total of one playoff series victory in ten seasons.
Look at the public comments Burke has made: as in, (just one example) having no patience for a give-year re-build. Look at his free-agent signings. Look at teams who have jumped past the Leafs in far less time in the East (can we say Florida and Ottawa?). Look at fans finally tiring of being spoken down to. Look at the way he comes across.
But it’s not him, right? It's everybody else.