Friday, November 28, 2008

MLSE Showdown: Battle of the Brian's- Who ya Got?

So if sources are to be believed the Maple Leafs have finally gotten their man. Brian Burke is set to become the new President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What does this mean for NHL fans in Toronto? I believe it means about the same as it did when MLSE signed the other Brian to a contract for the Raptors.

It means stability at the management level as well as a winning culture and respectability to an office that has been a joke for the past few seasons. Past that I think Leaf fans are going to have to be patient. Anyone that knows me knows that I am anything but a big hockey fan and to that point I really don't know much about the players available and the moves that Burke is going to need to make (although I'm hearing an enforcer is tops on his list). What I do know however is that the turnaround of this team is not going to happen as quickly as it did for the Raptors.

Why? Well the reasons to me are twofold.

1. The Raptors had an All-star player to build around in Chris Bosh. The leafs do not have this yet and that's a big deal. You could make a case that as of right now Toskola is their best player and he's not really in the future plans for this team provided the Justin Pogge situation pans out.

2. The roster sizes are totally different. The Raptors were able to take a guy like Bosh and get 4 guys (Ford, Nesterovic, Parker and Garbajosa) in to turn the team around. This gave them a core of guys to pair with Bosh and Calderon and ultimately make the playoffs in Colangelo's first full year as President and GM.
Burke has a tonne of young upstart players who play hard but aren't going to beat quality opponents night in and night out. It will take time for Burke to Shuffle around the assets and build a winning chemistry for this team. And in hockey when you have a roster of up to 23 players with 3 or 4 lines its much more difficult. Compare that to Basketball where you really only have 8-10 guys playing every night The bottom line is that its going to take longer.

All that said, I like this move for the team and even more for the city. Leafs fans have taken a beating in recent years. They've been somewhat of a laughing stock in the biggest hockey market in the world. Much like the New York Knicks were/are in the NBA world.

I'm happy MLSE has the Brians both Burke and Colangelo. They need them both to win and make more money (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek).

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