If you didn’t catch Brian Burke’s press conference this morning in Toronto, the Maple Leafs’ general manager didn’t disappoint when it came to doing what he does best – delivering memorable sound bites.
Unfortunately for Leafs fans, what he hasn’t been able to deliver is a playoff team, and today he had to answer for it.
Here’s the transcript. Following are a few choice Burke quotes, with our take in brackets.
On whether the Leafs should’ve followed the “Pittsburgh model,” aka suffering through a few miserable seasons and building through the draft:
“They won a lottery. They won a goddamn lottery and got the best player in the game. Pittsburgh model, my ass. They got the best player in the lottery, Ray Shero’s an excellent GM and a friend of mine, but I love when people talk about the Pittsburgh model.”
(They talk about it because it works. Chicago used it, too.)
On his management style:
“I was born impatient and I’m going to die impatient.”
(And that’s a good thing?)
On the type of team he wants to build:
“I still believe that big physical teams win hockey games, and if you have two evenly matched teams from a skilled perspective, the bigger one’s going to win.”
(That’s what you said when you were hired. How is your team still too small?)
More on the size, toughness issue:
“I’d say the one place where Ron Wilson and I were not on the same page was that same issue, I like to dictate how the game is played, we’re not big enough to play it Randy [Carlyle’s] way and that’s not optional. We can’t play the way Randy wants to play with this group, that’s not possible.”
(So you kept a coach for over three years that didn’t like to play the way you like your teams to play?)
On what the Leafs need most:
“I think Tyler Bozak made great strides, but for us, goaltending and a number-one center would be the needs.”
(You were looking for a future number-one center and a goaltender when you were hired in 2008, and you still don’t have either? Tyler Seguin’s going to be a pretty good center.)
On the possibility of improving through free agency:
“If you look at free agency, we’ve avoided doing those wonky contracts that are cap circumventions. I choose to make change through trade, not through free agency, I can’t see a lot of impact there.”
(When you were hired, you said July 1 would be your draft day. You’ve also plain made some bad signings. Mike Komisarek. Colby Armstrong. Tim Connolly.)
On yet again missing the playoffs:
“This notion of making the playoffs… we could have made the playoffs last year, we could have made the playoffs this year, we could have traded this first round pick, gotten a thirty-year-old, somehow squeaked in. I’m not interested in making the playoffs unless it’s part of a championship. That is the goal. Not to get in in the eighth spot, get your ass kicked, and stand up here and say yeah, we were in the playoffs.”
(And when exactly will the Leafs be making the playoffs with the chance to win a championship? Because at this point, they don’t even look close.)