North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Further Notes on Brian Burke’s Chutzpah

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On Monday morning, at 12 am, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle’s no-trade clause kicked in. It is now as unlikely as anything as one old chestnut about pigs and flying and etc. that will end the 2010-11 season in a uniform for a team other then Toronto’s.

It also leaves the Maple Leafs thin at forward. They’re stuck with one 30 goal scorer from last season (Phil Kessel) and… well, a lot of young players who may be able to score down the line, but not yet.

But, I’m pretty confident the decision not to trade Kaberle was a sound one. And I’m pretty happy Burke did what he did (nothing).

His demand for the d-man was pretty simple and rather blunt. He wanted a prospect and a top-six forward. He wanted back some young talent (the rebuilding part of his gig) and somebody who can score (the win-now part of his job).

And he didn’t get either. And he probably wasn’t going to get either.

Thanks to the ticking timebomb of Kaberle’s no-trade deal, I’d consider it very unlikely that any GM in the NHL would have offered anything even close to what Burke offered. I know I wouldn’t. I would have assumed that Burke wanted to deal this guy while he still could and get something, anything, back for him.

So I would have lowballed him. I would have offered him table scraps and hope he’d be happy to get them. I would have offered him some minor level players I didn’t want, some overpaid vet who can’t contribute any longer or some headcase that underachieves and makes problems for Kaberle. And I would have assumed that Burke would have looked at them seriously.

Why’s that? It’s not that Burke is a bad GM or that he’s unintelligent or anything. I would have assumed he would have pulled the trigger only because he could. Because he would have wanted to justify his position as GM.

It’s a move that I’m sure GM’s all over pro sports do all the time. They make moves because they can, to justify their roles. They want to show people – the other GM’s, the media and especially their own bosses – they are actually doing something, even if it’s eating somebody else’s burger.

But, Burke didn’t bite on a bad offer. He didn’t make a trade because he felt he must since he’s a GM. He stood pat and when nobody offered him what he wanted, he was left with Kaberle, with weak offense.

I’ve written before about Burke and his chutzpah. I’ve written that he’s completely unafraid to make a bold move if he thinks it’s the right move (although, sometimes it isn’t). When he make a splash and picked up Phil Kessel at the cost of three high picks, it was for a young player, just hitting his stride as a NHLer; it wasn’t for a veteran, the kind of player that used to come in the days of JFJ or Pat Quinn.

This is a variation on that theme. He has the guts not to make a move when it doesn’t suit his plan.

And you know what? It goes to show, sometimes no move is the right move.


Written by M.

August 17, 2010 at 10:04 pm

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