This is the first part of my transcript of yesterday’s Leafs media day. It focuses primarily on Luke’s deal, with the majority of the quotes coming from our general manager. Part two is coming to you on Monday, with quotes from other players and Ron Wilson for the media day itself.
Brian Burke on life, universe and Schenn’s deal:
â€œWe intend to spend to the cap. He havenâ€™t spent to the cap since Iâ€™ve been here, but thatâ€™s why you have to work hard at these contracts and Don Meehanâ€™s group did a really good job on Lukeâ€™s side and Claude Loiselle did a really good job on our side. I think the deal reached was fair and am very pleased to announce Luke Schenn is a Leaf for five more yearsâ€¦â€
As are we. At 3.6 mil. Schenn deal is fair value, especially given the term of the contract. Luke has been a vital cog for this team, led us in hits in the each of the last three years and will keep progressing along with the likes of Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Keith Aulie etc. The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native also led the Maple Leafs in blocked shots with 168, and was the only player in the NHL to have over 250 hits and at least 150 blocked shots last season.Â If youâ€™re a Leafs fan, this is the news you were waiting to hear all summer long.
â€œIâ€™ve never changed my philosophy (on building a team) which has been that unless you canâ€™t keep the puck out of your own net, youâ€™re not going to have a championship team. In my mind, championship teams start at the back of the rink and I think this group we put together is as competitive as anybody has.â€
I couldnâ€™t agree more. Not only has he not abandoned that strategy, I think itâ€™s more evident than ever before, especially given the strength of our defensive prospects. The only thing Burke has maybe tweaked is – since he realizes the fact the game has changed – puck transition is more important and hence he has stockpiled more puck moving defensemen.
â€œWe spent a much time on a two year model, three year model and a five year model (on Lukeâ€™s deal). Every stone was turned in this negotiation, I can promise you that. The key is, for Luke, a player has to feel he has been treated fairly. We want to pay whatâ€™s fair, we donâ€™t want to pay more than whatâ€™s fair, but we want to pay whatâ€™s fair. Itâ€™s not always easy to arrive at that number.â€
Oh, Burke I already love you, you donâ€™t have to say things like this to make me love you more. No, but really, if you look at what Doughty is doing in LA (not the same caliber of player, or the same playing style I know, but not a universe apart in their value to their respective teams either) I think Schennâ€™s side did everything possible to get that deal done in Toronto. Management really wanted him here and there was never any doubt in my mind the deal would get done. That says a lot about a player and his relationship with the club.
â€œLuke plays the game the way we all dream about finding players to play that way. He plays hard, heâ€™s hard to play against, he finishes his checks, heâ€™s gotten dramatically better in the time heâ€™s been here. I think his offensive side can continue to develop, you saw some of that last year and I think that number can increase.â€
Yeah, it’s pretty much obvious that Burke loves Schenner. Â One added variable to secure that the deal would indeed get done. Again, I think Luke has some potential for offense from the back end, I have always claimed that, glad to see the GM agrees with me.
Luke Schenn on why I want to continue in a Leafs uniform:
“Altogether, I think we have a pretty good leadership group, our whole team is a bunch of guys bringing a a whole bunch of differentÂ things to the table, we’re a bunch of young guys and I think no matter how young a guy is, everyone has that ability to step up and still be in a comfort zone here, just because of everyone’s pretty close in terms of age and because everyone gets along great. Going forward I think you just want to be able to contribute to that.”
Here is a direct confirmation as any you’re likely to get of the old “A team that grows together, plays together” credo.
“I just like to thank Brian and the Leafs organization for showing the confidence in me for the next five years. I’ve been proud to be part of the Toronto Maple LeafsÂ ever since I’ve been drafted here, my first three years have been awesome, the city has been great to me, the fans have been awesome, the organizationÂ unbelievable. Â This team is a good young team and I know we’re only going to get better…”
We know you love it here Luke, that’s why we love you. That and the fact you erase humans.