Friday, January 6, 2017

Remembering Brian Burke's ridiculous trading record

Monday is an important anniversary in the evolution of this Maple Leafs team, although we shouldn’t expect any press releases or pregame ceremonies. Instead, the team will let the date quietly slip by, without mentioning that it marks four years since Brian Burke’s reign as general manager came to an end.

Burke’s firing, announced shortly after the end of the 2012-13 lockout, came as a surprise. It’s rare to see a GM stay on the job throughout an offseason, only to be dismissed days before opening night. It eventually became clear that Burke’s relationship (or lack thereof) with new ownership had been the factor that sealed his fate.

Burke’s Toronto tenure was picked apart in the days after the firing, and in the years since. No doubt they will be again in the days to come. In short, Burke was a failure as Leafs’ GM. He drafted poorly. He mismanaged the cap, especially when it came to free agency. He refused to take advantage of various CBA loopholes that seemed tailor-made for big-money teams like Toronto. And he consistently misjudged his own roster, always believing he was almost there, as if we’d all wake up one morning and realize that what looked like a last place team was actually a contender.

So yes, Burke deserved the criticism, just as he deserved to be fired. All of that was fair. All of it was true.

But all of that also makes it easy to forget one other key trait of the Brian Burke years: When it came to trading, the man was freaking brilliant.

Not “good” or “above average”. He was ridiculous. During his time in Toronto, he put together one of the best trading records in the entire league.

That mattered. And it’s worth remembering today, as the league plods through an era where few teams use trades to build their roster, including the current iteration of the Leafs. While it’s still relatively early in the Lou Lamoriello era, the team has only made three deals of any real significance – Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh, Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa and Frederik Andersen from Anaheim.

That’s not a lot, but it’s three more than some teams have made. That’s the way it works in today’s NHL, where trading is a dying art. It’s too hard, we’re told. The salary cap is too complicated, we’re reminded. You just can’t make trades anymore, whines a generation of risk-averse GMs.

Bullshit, replied Brian Burke. Hand me the phone.

>> Read the full post at TheAthletic


  1. It's a shame I can't read this article due to a paywall; I've read all of your articles since 2012!

  2. Agreed. No knock on DGB mind you, but I have read each and every article he writes for longer than I can remember and now the fact that I can't because I'd have to subscribe to that site is unfortunate/irritating.

    The subscription price itself is minor and on its own no big deal, but just the principle of it. What if Sportsnet starts charging to read his articles. Or Vice, Guardian, THN, etc.

    I'd pay a global "DGB" subscription fee for access to all his content if it came to that, but the idea of having to pay on micro levels to a bunch of different sites is vexing.

    Anyway, keep up the good work DGB

  3. Too bad I was looking forward to reading this

  4. In the part, we would get one to two articles a week.

    Now we get one article a day.

    If this means one article a week has to be behind a pay wall ... Fine with me.

  5. I've been finding if you read it on the day of publishing, the athletic offers the full article for free.

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