Thursday, January 10, 2013

Breaking Burke

How does that old saying go? You can't miss someone until they've gone?

And with his recent firing, I miss Brian Burke with everything that quote implies.
It feels redundant to write on something that has been ripped apart by a hockey starved hoard of media, bloggers, and fans as there really is no stones left to over turn and examine to death.

But here we are.

I am a gigantic fan of Brian Burke. He is so many things that I love in a human. He's smart, quick witted, great for a quote and an entertaining curmudgeon of a gent. I am emotionally invested in the man, he makes me feel feels and ever since he came blustering into Toronto throwing around 5 dollar words I've been hooked. I was hopeful when he started gutting the team of previous GM errors, I was terrified yet hopeful when he traded Kessel, I was gutted when he lost his son, and I was proud when he took up the LGBT flag and waived it proudly for all of pro sports to see.

But, I think the thing I will miss most about Brian Burke is that he had "that thing", you know, he always seemed like he was on the verge of his next best ex plan, and it was exciting. There was an undeniable sense of theater that surrounded Burke, and I loved it.

Then there is the other side of the Burkian coin. The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, you know, that thing he was handsomely paid to run. You all know the trades, the signings, the draft picks and the moral code. You all know the promises, the coaching, the collapses and the hope, and I'm sure most of you can agree, that it was probably time to move this in a different direction.  When it comes down to it, Burke didn't get it done, he miss-judged his team time and time again, and no matter how spectacular and surprising a move he made, it could not cover up the fact that the team he iced just wasn't very good at winning hockey games.

One of the things that has come up after said firing is that Burke was let go partially because he didn't have a plan. That's just something I can't buy. Burke always had a plan, he was the goddamed Hannibal Smith of the NHL (minus the whole plan coming together thing). Maybe the Rogers/Bell super conglomerate of doom didn't like his plan, or didn't "get" his plan, but Burke had a plan, believe you me. Maybe I was drinking the kool-aid, but I never was worried about the Leafs with Burke at the helm, I mean, I wasn't happy with team or anything, but there was this odd sensation of building, things were happening and they were happening RIGHT NOW. And now that's gone.

I don't know what to expect from Nonis, his resume stacks up as competent  yet quiet, and if anyone can right the good ship Brian Burke, he's probably the one familiar enough with the controls to do it, but where does he take it?

For the first time in half a decade I have absolutely zero idea where this team is headed, and that both excites and terrifies me. Oh, well, onward and upward.
Thank you Brian, thank you for your contributions and your efforts. Thank you for making such a positive impact on my team, its players and the great city of Toronto. I am proud to have been associated with you in the round about way that I am, keep up the good work and the best of luck in your hockey future.
Please don't rob the Leafs blind in a trade when you get another GM gig, you know how us fans have suffered as well as anyone.

Jared Of London
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