Brian Burke’s MLA Interview

Brian Burke’s MLA Interview

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Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The 2011 Maple Leafs Annual is 99% complete, and we should have preordering information available for you all soon. Remember, if you have read any of our teasers or interview excerpts, you are morally obligated to purchase this magazine. Don’t be a bad person. The Annual can be yours for a mere $9.99 this time around, so no excuses.

The Burke interview for Annual, conducted by torontosportsmedia, went extraordinarily well. The final product is a must read, as Burke touches on a wide variety of topics including but not limited to the failures of past seasons, the offseason moves, the media, the status of Ron Wilson, and expectations for the season ahead. In the course of conversation, Burke touched on a number of the topics our reader questions inquired about. After the jump, I’ll glean a few small excerpts for your enjoyment.

First, three short quotes that didn’t make it into the Annual piece:

Question: Do the Leafs have the right balance of age and leadership/experience?
Burke: “Yes, but if we need experience down the road I have shown that I am always willing to make the move that we need.”

Q: With a deep depth chart, is there any concern that a young player might earn a spot in camp but fall victim to the number’s game?
Burke: “No, If a player is good enough to make the team based on what the coaches believe it’s the management job to make it work.”

Q: Do you feel your cap flexibility will give you an advantage over in-Conference rivals who threw money around in early July?
Burke: “We feel that we are in excellent shape with the cap compared to other teams, especially considering the transactions on or about july 1.”

A few of your questions inquired about Burke’s issue with long-term contracts; is it the backsliding, cap-circumventing element that took him out of the running for certain available commodities on July 1st, or is he opposed lengthy terms in general? The answer seems to be mostly the former, but a bit of the latter.

Burke: “I am not opposed to long term contracts. I am opposed to contracts that don’t reflect proper valuations in each year. My objection is to the back diving contracts… The contracts that back dive and falsify the cap hit; I have a problem with those and that’s why we won’t do them …. I would consider a long term contract for a player as long as the salary was legitimate each year of the contract. However, I think real long term contracts put too much risk on the team.”

Note: An interesting fact – the Leafs are the only team in the league to not have a dollar committed on the cap past July 1st, 2014.

Q: Have you gotten rid of the Blue and White disease?
Burke: “I underestimated the full extent of the blue and white disease here …. I think we have eradicated the blue and white disease. I think with the team we have now, we are down to five guys that I inherited. Luke Schenn, James Reimer, Mikhail Grabovski, [Nikolai] Kulemin and [Carl] Gunnarson, every other guy here I brought in and they all know that I will get rid of them if we can’t get it done and I will keep making changes until I do. My goal is to get 20 guys that want to win as badly as I do or I am going to keep putting people on airplanes.”

Q: Does negative comment in the media hurt your efforts to maximize player value, or are organizations able to keep their evaluations entirely internal?
Burke: “We don’t pay attention to media reports or speculation. What or how the media perceives a specific player or the value he may get in a trade is irrelevant to us.”

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That is only a scratching of the surface of the depth to the interview. For the best stuff, you’ll have to go straight to the source. Stay tuned for 2011 Maple Leafs Annual preordering information. 5QTF2SMQME25

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]