Brian Burke

Burke: Leafs are just “fine-tuning” now


A nip here, a tuck there, and the Maple Leafs will be good to go.

That’s the message Brian Burke had for the Toronto Star in a wide-ranging interview.

“We’re looking at fine-tuning now,” the Leafs’ president and general manager told the Star.

“When we first got here, it was all major surgery. It was all M.A.S.H. unit stuff. It was all triage. Now, really, you’re looking at cosmetic surgery — maybe a little lipo.”

Burke didn’t specify which blobs of fat he’d suck out of the Leafs, but go ahead and enjoy the visual.

What’s interesting is the fact Burke believes the Leafs are at the “fine-tuning” stage, as if they’re right on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup. Toronto is one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL. It has the league’s 30th-ranked penalty kill. It’s heavily reliant on one line to do the scoring. Its starting goaltender has 45 NHL starts to his resume.

But I guess that’s the team’s he’s assembled, so what else is he going to say about it?

Of course, no wide-ranging interview with Brian Burke is complete without a mention of the media.

Suddenly, Burke is in full-scowl mode, which raises a question. Both the GM and coach Ron Wilson have tangled with the media during their time in Toronto. But now that the team is owned by Rogers and Bell, which in turn also own prominent media properties, will Burke be reluctant to wage war with the people who cover his team?

“I don’t pick those fights,” Burke says. “The media pick those fights. My relationship with the media is excellent. With certain members of the media that, in my mind, aren’t professional, it’s not very good and it never will be. I don’t ever want to be on good terms with unprofessional people. And if that means we have a clash with people who work for the owners, then we have a clash. I’m not going to change how I do things based on who owns the team.”

The Leafs are in Buffalo tomorrow, then host the Canucks Saturday in a battle between the only two Canadian teams that would qualify for the playoffs if they started today. With a little “fine-tuning,” maybe we’ll be watching a Stanley Cup final preview.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
Leave a comment

In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.