Finally, the long goodbye has ended and Tomas Kaberle has gone to Boston. And the Leafs’ players can concentrate on pounding the tar out of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. I love what Brian Burke got in return. Rangy centre Joe Colborne and Peter Chiarelli’s low, first-round choice in 2011 and a conditional second. But what I enjoyed most was the way Burke addressed the media, following the Kaberle deal, on Friday afternoon. And it reminded me why I continue to see him taking the Leafs in the right direction.
What other NHL GM would stand at the front of the room and equate his team-building to a pregnant woman enduring the nine months prior to the blessed event? There isn’t one. And that’s why Brian Burke is completely believable when he delineates his plans at these pressers. He speaks straight from his heart with as direct a phrase as he can. Love it.
For months and months and months, half-baked, so-called Leafs’ fans castigated Burke for the fact that he’d sold the farm to Boston for Phil Kessel. “He’s got no first-round picks,” they moaned. Well, suddenly, he’s got two. Burke knows what fans often forget (or never knew in the first place) – an aggressive GM can change things with his club at a moment’s notice. And, if nothing else, Burke is aggressive.
Fortunately, for Burke, he had decent bargaining chips in Kris “He never fit in here” Versteeg, François Beauchemin and soon-to-be UFA Kaberle. And, in return he got F Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner and C Joe Colborne, plus whomever he parlays those first-rounders into. That’s pretty good managing.
Brian Burke has done exactly what he said he’d do – he’s changed the culture inside the Leafs by essentially moving every player who was on the roster when he arrived, save Luke Schenn – who was drafted by Cliff Fletcher (in the summer before Burke arrived). The longest-serving Leafs’ player is now…Darryl Boyce. And he’s hardly been a mainstay. Nikolai Kulemin has played more games for the blue and white than any other current player. That’s turnover.
Joe Colborne played two seasons for the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League before going to the University of Denver. Guys from the AJHL are generally from pretty sturdy stock. Just ask Mark Messier. As a 17-year old, Colborne’s Kodiaks won 49 of the 62 games they played in 2007-08. And he led those Kodiaks to the RBC Cup Final. The guy’s a leader. And he’s not a tough guy. Perfect player to get in return for Kaberle.
It’s just further proof, folks, that Brian Burke does indeed know what he’s doing when it comes to making a winner out of the Toronto Maple Leafs. We’ve got nine days until the deadline. Bet he makes a move or two before that.