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.