Highlights from Brian Burke’s July 1 conference call

(Mark Blinch, Reuters, Original Source)

The Leafs Nation was able to procure audio of the conference call with Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Brian Burke on July 1, after the signing of Jay McClement, the re-signing of Matt Frattin, and several dollars were handed out, in Burke’s estimation, that cost too much.

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On Jay McClement:

We like the fact that he’s an established third-line guy with skill. He’s good on face-offs, can kill penalties, last minute of the game, last minute of each period when protecting a lead he’s the guy who’s going to see the ice. Quiet guy, leads by example, he’s not a vocal leader, but we knew he was a good addition.


Randy was pretty excited about this. We got his input on all the guys we considered today.

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I think he’s a third line guy and he might push Steck down, but I think that’s where Steck probably belongs in terms of minutes, playing in the four hole but on the first PK, so his minutes will always be, those two guys will probably end up with third line minutes by virtue of their special teams play. But it’s not going to bother me if we use them both on the PK together sometime. Or if their both out for a faceoff we need to win with two minutes to go in the game, one guy gets lined up at wing in case the other guy gets tossed and it just gives you more options. 


On Matt Frattin:


I think Matt Frattin, notwithstanding the injury and the fact he may not be able to start camp, that remains to be seen, I think he proved that he can play in the NHL and he was an integral part of the Marlies run. We think this is a guy who is going to step right in and play right away for us and has Top Six potential as a forward. He’s a big body guy who uses his weight well. You know in the playoffs he looked a lot like Dustin Brown, he’s an example. He’s a big part of the future here.

On where the Leafs need to improve:

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We’re looking to get bigger, we’re looking to solve or to upgrade the goaltending situation, we’re still looking for a centre or to upgrade at centre if we can, that solution may be internal, that may be one of the Marlies players, but we’re not done this is a starting point. As I said at the draft, this is a chain of events that goes on in the summer, and I’m not discouraged at all. I felt all along we’d have to address these things through trade, and that’s how we’re going to have to do them. 

On general managers spending on July 1st:

We’re not done. You guys know my feeling on this. I’ve said this going back I think the first time I gave this rant was in ’98, maybe ’99. I have a feeling that our group makes more mistakes on July 1st than we do in all the rest of the year combined. I think we hand out contracts with unrealistic values, and unrealistic term, and I think these are things that in a hard cap system that bite you right in the butt at some point. So I’m not surprised we weren’t able to do more, we could have, we had cap space, we have the money, ownership has authorized us to spend, I just don’t think it was the prudent way to spend money. It was the same way a year ago.

A year ago I was in Afghanistan. I was watching the deals come across the wire. ‘This is what the agent wants for this guy, 4 years at 3 million dollars.’ No, we’re not doing that. And it was the same way today. I marched in the parade, I’m checking my Blackberry, it’s going off every 30 seconds, and ‘this deal, do you want to get in on this deal? No.’ ‘Do you want to get in on this deal? No.’ Anyway, it’s a familiar rant, you guys have heard it before.

On upgrading the defence:

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That’s a lower priority, we think that we have an internal, if we want to add a body there, we think we have an internal upgrade. We signed Mike Kostka today and we think he’s a guy that’s gotten better every year since he turned pro, two Ontario kids, both he and Jay, and this is a guy that just about killed us in the playoffs with Norfolk. This is a local-area kid, a Hamilton boy I believe, and he’s gotten better every year but we think that between [Korbinian] Holzer possibly might make the jump, we think Jesse Blacker might make the jump but we’ll have to see. That 7th D might be a guy we actually have.

On Colby Armstrong:

Colby… from our perspective, it’s a difficult thing because this is a guy who was hurt the entire time he was here. If it wasn’t for bad luck he would have had no luck as a Leaf. They were totally different injuries, it wasn’t like he had a bad knee that kept going wonky on him.

The injuries and the recovery period just broke him down as a player. We were greatful for what he did for us when he was here, it wasn’t a lack of effort, he’s a good kid, but we’re moving on.

Other quick hits:

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-Brian Burke said there was nothing to report on the other RFAs.

-Burke admit that the Leafs were in on Martin Brodeur, or at least kicked the tires, but Burke figured that Brodeur would re-sign with New Jersey, and he did Monday morning.

-More on the Frattin surgery, Burke called it “complicated” with a “lengthy rehab” and isn’t counting on Frattin to be at Leafs camp.

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