Similar to what I wrote after previous Leafs press conferences, I offer you my take on some of the more memorable, important and indicative quotes from Brian Burke, all taken from yesterdayâ€™s comments to the media. The entire press conference can be viewed here: http://mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568696
On the Brad Richards sweepstakes:
â€œWeâ€™ve made a considerable offer to Brad Richards, what weâ€™ve offered I donâ€™t think is material, but we lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes for two reasons. One, we didnâ€™t offer as much money as other teams, and more importantly, we didnâ€™t structure the contract like other teams did. These deals that are front end loaded and have small amounts on the back end are in my opinion designed to circumvent the salary cap. I wonâ€™t do them, never have, am not going to and thatâ€™s why we were unable to sign Brad Richards.â€
I think this was the right attitude to have. Not only because itâ€™s a logical one, but because itâ€™s a right one. First, the term and money demanded by Brad Richards might improve our team short term, but would be a long term dead weight. Secondly, I like Burke not questioning his morals on a semi worthwhile deal. But if you think it was business morals, and business morals alone that cost us Brad Richards, thereâ€™s something really wrong with your reasoning.
Burke also indicated he had an offer sheet ready prior to the Kessel trade, but said that it obviously didn’t come to that.
When asked: â€œDoes Nazem slot as a winger in training camp?â€ Burke had some pretty interesting words:
â€œYes, probably. What we ask our centers to do at both ends of the rink are not his strong suits but he can stop up and make a play. Iâ€™d like to remind people that like Paul Kariya, who played his whole career on the wing but really once he crossed the blueline he was a center.â€
A clear indication of Kadriâ€™s lack of polish on his defensive game, but at the same time a testament to how highly Burke really values the kid.
On Jeff Finger:
â€œIf he can make our team thatâ€™s great, we havenâ€™t written off Jeff Finger. This is a quality player, he had injury trouble last year. With the depth we have, heâ€™s probably going to have a tough time but if he can come in and take a job thatâ€™s great. Heâ€™s a good kid that played well for us until he got hurt, he accepted his role with the Marlies professionally and if he can make our team thatâ€™s great.â€
As always, we remain a good, classy hockey organization. Good hockey teams/organizations value effort, competition and everyone is given a fair chance. I like that.
On Colton Orr and Jay Rosehill:
â€œI think they are different players. Colton is a battle ship and these guys (Rosehill and Brown) are lighter weight ships, but they get around quicker and do more stuff. Colton could have been cleared to play last year, his brain activity was back to pre injury levels, but they were more comfortable waiting and weâ€™re werenâ€™t going to rush him. Iâ€™m never going to rush a player who does that job.â€
Enforcers may or may not merit a place in todayâ€™s NHL, but itâ€™s pretty clear Burke still values that role. Keep that in mind and donâ€™t be surprised if Colton makes his return.
On the surplus of defensemen:
â€œWell I think we used 10 defensemen when we won the Cup in Anaheim, I think you need to have depth at that position, itâ€™s a wear and tear position and it gives you assets to put in a trade. Weâ€™re in a position to move a defenseman if we want to or need to.â€
This one pretty much speaks for itself. I still think Burke is looking for a trade here, but knowing how much Burke likes defensive depth wonâ€™t be surprised if we stood pat.
On Cody Franson:
â€œWe were really high on him, I loved him in junior, I think heâ€™s got a chance to be a really good player in this league. Heâ€™s already a good player and with that kind of size and mobility, the way he shoots the puck gives us a second shooting option on the PP. To me, not to downplay Matthew Lombardi, who we also like, he was the key to this deal.â€
I too really like Franson, he has great size and point producing potential from the back end. Was surprised when we got him, even with Nashvilleâ€™s blueline depth. Booming shot, aÂ significant upgrade onÂ our PP that looks so much better with him, Liles and Connolly. Potential. That’s the key word floating around this kid – potential.
On James Reimer:
â€œWith him, the issue has gotta be to build on what he started. There are a lot of goalies that come in and have a brief, spectacular bursts in the NHL but donâ€™t sustain that. Jim Carrey is one, Steve Penny is one with the Montreal Canadiens years ago and what I said to James Reimer was google both of those guys and make sure youâ€™re not one of them.â€
On Lombardiâ€™s concussion recovery:
â€œHe thinks heâ€™ll be ready for training camp, weather he is or not itâ€™s a deal we still would have done, weâ€™re taking a risk on this, but this is a player had 53 points two years ago and we think he can come back.”