Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Burke in eye of offer-sheet storm

Yesterday, quietly, Brian Burke reacquired the Leafs 2010 2nd-round draft pick from Chicago. He paid a 2nd and a 3rd to get it.

Bob McKenzie kicked today off on TSN.com by noting that the Leafs now have possession of their own 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks for next year - the payment required to put an offer sheet on Phil Kessel and his estimated $4M-$5M salary request.

Cue the instant chatter, most of it retreading on the Lowe/Burke/Penner offer-sheet fiasco from a few years ago. Popular opinion this morning is that Brian Burke arranging his draft pick troops in such a threatening way to acquire Phil Kessel stinks of hypocrisy. He hates offer sheets. Remember?

Then over at our good friends Pension Plan Puppets, Leafies provides the minutes from Brian Burke's original criticism of Kevin Lowe which shows Burke never said he opposed offer-sheets to begin with. Here is a portion of that story from July 2007:

"I have no problem with offer sheets, they are part of the CBA," Burke said on a conference call. "I think it's a tool certainly a team is entitled to use. My issue here is this is the second time this year in my opinion Edmonton have offered a grossly inflated salary for a player, and it impacts on all 30 teams and I think it's an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

This afternoon, Chiarelli and Burke both spoke in detail about the rumours.

Brian Burke, unquestionably, is intent on making the Toronto Maple Leafs a better hockey team as fast as he possibly can. The question is, with the evidence we have, is he doing this now at the expense of his own principles? Or more importantly, will this be the perception? Personally, I see no hypocrisy, only that a man as brash as Brian Burke will always have his critics.

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