Tag: Matt Lombardi

Brian Burke

Burke era in Toronto: Trades, truculence and tirades


As reported earlier, Brian Burke has been fired as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Burke era began in 2008 and spanned 305 games, with a record of 128-135-42 and zero playoff appearances.

Those are the numbers, but this story is about more.

Much, much more.

Let’s take a look back at some of Burke’s most memorable moments in Tronna.


It’s hard to know exactly where to start. Burke was a perpetual mover and shaker during his time in Toronto, making over 40 trades in what amounted to a total roster overhaul.

He brought in the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, John-Michael Liles, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, Matt Lombardi and David Steckel.

He shipped out the likes of Tomas Kaberle, Luke Schenn, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White.

He brought in and shipped out Kris Versteeg, JS Giguere and Francois Beauchemin.

But the signature move of Burke’s wheeling and dealing was the Kessel trade, in which Boston netted two first-round picks that would become Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

It was his boldest and most contentious move, one that will continue to be referenced well into Dave Nonis’ tenure.


“We require, as a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence,” Burke told the media upon being hired in 2008. “That’s how our teams play.”

It’s the line that stuck with Burke throughout his time in Toronto.

While the strategy reaped huge rewards in Anaheim — Burke won a Cup with a roster featuring Shawn Thornton, Travis Moen, George Parros, Sean O’Donnell and Brad May — it never came to fruition with the Leafs.

The likes of Colton Orr, Mike Brown, Garnet Exelby and Jay Rosehill were acquired in an ill-fated effort to get tough and, in perhaps his most egregious “tough” signing, Burke shelled out $22.5 million for Mike Komisarek.

“He’s a respected competitor in this league,” Burke said upon signing Komisarek. “We know that he will bring his hard-nosed approach to our team on a consistent basis.”

Komisarek only appeared in 45 games last year and was often a healthy scratch.

Today, he’s mostly mentioned as an amnesty buyout candidate.


Burke was nothing if not combative during his four-plus years on the job. Fights, feuds and potential fisticuffs were constant:

He ripped ESPN

He ripped CBC

— He said the Penguins were good because they “won a goddamn lottery

He ripped Don Cherry

He ripped Ron MacLean

— He wanted to rent a barn to stage a fist fight between him and Kevin Lowe

He ripped Leafs fans

He ripped the Toronto media

— He called Ron Wilson a “Hall of Fame coach” then fired him three months later

He ripped Francois Allaire

He ripped anonymous player polls

Say what you will about the job he did, or the way he conducted himself — the NHL is going to be less interesting now that Brian Burke’s no longer a part of it.


Leafs fire Brian Burke (!!!); Nonis named replacement

Tonight on NBCSN: Penguins look to roll on against Maple Leafs

Mikhail Grabovski, Evgeni Malkin

The Toronto Maple Leafs could be in for a rough ride tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the two face off at CONSOL Energy Center in  Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The Leafs head into tonight’s game feeling banged up after their physical loss to Boston last night and, oh yeah, the Penguins will be jacked up after they unveil Mario Lemieux’s statue outside the arena before tonight’s game.

Toronto comes in having seen Joffrey Lupul, Matt Lombardi, and Colby Armstrong all find different ways to get hurt in last night’s game. One face we won’t see called up from the NHL is former Leafs first round pick Nazem Kadri. Instead, it sounds like newly acquired prospect Carter Ashton is on his way into town to give the Leafs a new, warm body.

Possibly going without Lupul means that the Leafs lose one of their top two scorers meaning Phil Kessel will need to do the heavy lifting tonight against Pittsburgh. It’s an unenviable task for the goal scoring leader on a team that’s desperate to stay relevant to the playoff race.

On the flip side, Pittsburgh has a lot of great news on its horizon. Yesterday saw that Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact in practice and the clock begins as to when we’ll see him back on the ice in a game. Figuring that he’ll be back in time for the start of the playoffs should make everyone in the East nervous. Adding him to a lineup that sees Evgeni Malkin lining up to be one of the Hart Trophy finalists as well as seeing Marc-Andre Fleury having a huge season of his own and you have a Penguins team that’s relishing in positive news.

While the Pens still have an issue with Kris Letang being out with concussion-like symptoms, the way they’re constructed right now makes them a very dangerous team and one that the playoff-hopeful Leafs would rather not be dealing with at the moment. Even more so on a night where they’re honoring the Hall of Fame owner.

Wilson splits up All-Stars Kessel and Lupul: “We’ve got to keep more pucks out of our net”

Kessel Lupul

With his team 4-5-1 over its last 10 and three points back of the  final playoff spot in the East, Toronto head coach Ron Wilson sent a message yesterday, breaking up the All-Star duo of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

“We’re looking for overall balance,” Wilson told the Globe and Mail. “Balance between offence and defence. We’ve got to keep more pucks out of our net – not make silly mistakes that result in a goal against.”

While it’s unclear what silly mistakes Wilson is referring to, there’s no shortage of candidates. The most recent ones came during Toronto’s 3-2 loss to Ottawa where the Kessel-Lupul-Tyler Bozak line was on the hook for the Senators’ first two goals — but there have been plenty of other miscues over the last few weeks as Kessel and Lupul went a combined minus-10 over three straight Leafs losses.

“Some lines have been getting scored on way too much in the last 10 or 15 games,” Wilson said (without directly naming names). “At least for a period, we’ll see if something like [shuffling the lineup] helps us.”

The break-up may have hit Kessel and Lupul hard, as they both declined to speak with reporters following Wednesday’s practice. The two have played nearly 90 percent of their even-strength time together this year, Lupul has been on the ice for all but four of Kessel’s 49 points and both are headed to the All-Star game based largely on the chemistry they’ve developed this season.

According to the Globe, Toronto’s new-look top two lines for Thursday’s game against Minnesota will be:

Matt Lombardi-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel

Joffrey Lupul-Tim Connolly-Nazem Kadri