Brian Burke has been oft-criticized for various moves since beginning his tenure as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs but after witnessing the recent Brian Rolston waiver situation I think we should start to also give him at least a tiny bit of credit.Â Burke has gone on record as saying he doesnâ€™t believe in the long term contracts that NHL teams are throwing around in recent years and he wonâ€™t be giving any Leafs player this type of deal anytime soon â€“ though hard to say if any of the current Leafs are worthy.
When asked about the Kovalchuck circumvention case he was quoted as saying â€œThe risk a team assumes with a long-term deal is a different issue [than] whether itâ€™s permitted under the CBA. So thatâ€™s a different issue.â€Â Itâ€™s clear he doesnâ€™t believe this is a prudent way to do business and although I wish we actually had a Jeff Carter to lock-up, maybe he is right.
â€œWeâ€™re two years away from expiration of the CBA. My mindset hasnâ€™t changed. The league sets the rules here, theyâ€™ve given us the rules and now weâ€™ll go forward under those rules. Iâ€™m not going to rule out anything thatâ€™s permissible under the league bylaws or under the CBA.â€
With some of the best talent in the league being locked up in these multi-year deals including Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard, Jeff Carter, Ilya Kovalchuk, Chris Pronger, Marion Hossa and Alex Ovechkin is it wise that Burke doesnâ€™t want to wade into the water of these longer contracts?Â Taking a closer look at Brian Rolston over the past few years might give you a more definitive answer.
Over the past two seasons (plus 21 games this year) Rolston hasnâ€™t exactly aged gracefully and while not all players will necessarily age this poorly a lesson has to be learned:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
This isnâ€™t rocket science, human beings age and with aging comes an overall worsening of athletic ability.Â Not many players get better with age, especially in a rough and tumble sport like hockey.Â Brian Rolston has played at an AHL level the past 2.5 seasons and is getting paid like a first-line forward, maybe Brian Burke is on to something.
Of course a lot of people point to the â€œwink-winkâ€ agreement that a player will simply retire near the end of his deal, but not many players retire at age 34-38 and a lot of them play a less than inspired brand of hockey during these years.Â In fact, outside of a few rare examples most players fall off a cliff after age 35 or so, a perfect example of this is Darcy Tucker (two years younger than Rolston) who is now officially out of hockey.
In fact, sometimes a superstar player literally ages overnight (or over an offseason), Joe Sakic at age 37 was a premium player in the NHL seemingly impervious to father time as he scored 36 goals and added 64 assists and over the following two seasons played a total of 59 games and added only 15 goals â€“ it happens a lot.
With the current CBA set to expire, the Donald Fehr led NHLPA and Gary Bettman led NHL owner group will probably look to dig there heals in a bit so who knows what the salary structure landscape will be. The Maple Leafs are not hampered by too many longer term contracts and they could be in a great position to flex their financial muscles over the next 3-5 seasons.Â
With the current plight of the team I know itâ€™s hard to think about a potential payoff so far down the road but when some of these teams start to feel the ramifications of short sighted contracts in the next 7-10 years a team like the Leafs will hopefully be positioned perfectly.Â
Given the frustration in Leafs nation over the past five years sometimes you have to dig deep to find any sort of a bright spot.Â
An â€œOutâ€ With Komisarek?
I was watching â€˜Roundersâ€™ again last night and when â€œMike McDâ€ (played by Matt Damon) was reliving his beat against â€œTeddy KGBâ€ (John Malkovich), Matt said, I forgot the Cardinal rule because I was blinded by my High Stakes dreams. “Always leave yourself with outs.”
Perusing some old Leafs stories and I ran across the Mike Komisarek signing with the team story on the TSN website and got excited for a second.Â Why?Â It appears Brian Burke might have left himself and the Leafs an out; however it is unlikely to be playable.
â€œSources tell TSN thatÂ Komisarek’s deal with the Maple Leafs includes a limited no-trade clause. Every September, Komisarek will be asked by Toronto to submit a list of 12 teams he would accept a trade to.â€
I posted this blurb on twitter and was given the following quick response:
@tdotsports1 if only it included a list of even one team that would take him
To which I could only lower my head in shame, although at least it wasnâ€™t a 10-year deal right?Â According to Cap Geek Mike Komisarek and his $4.5 million dollar cap hit comes off the books after the 2013/14 season.
Â An Idea to â€œOpen the Shooting Lanesâ€?
It seems on way too many occasions this season the Maple Leafs have been bogged down by brave forwards who clog the shooting lanes and try to block every shot they can but I think I have come up with an ingenious solution.Â Effectively immediately Dion Phaneuf is required to unleash his absolute bomb of a shot directly at the faces (or groins) of opposing forwards who dare get inÂ the way.
I figure after about 2-3 games the word (and gruesome videos) will start to spread and the lanes will suddenly be wider than the Grand Canyon, joking of course, but anybody have a better idea?.
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