Governing the game of hockey is the game of business. The Toronto Maple Leafs are now enjoying a fresh start with the selection and appointment of Randy Carlyle as head coach, who guided the team to a win over Montreal in his first game behind the bench.
Returning to the line-up, at the expense of Cody Franson, was Mike Komiserak, a former Canadiens blueliner who was most effective prior to his last fight with the Bruins' Milan Lucic, disliked and recently benched by Coach Wilson, though most people seem to attribute his lack of success to injury. He was truculent.
Komiserak is going the way of Jeff Finger. As the players and their ever-growing support staff prepare for upcoming games, a big concern lies squarely between the pipes. Toronto, at the behest of Harold Ballard, implemented a wonderful "youth movement" in the 80s and the team endured a dynamic goalie tandem of Ken Wregget and Jeff Reese, occasionally interuppted by Bunny Laroque and Allan Bester.
Be assured, these days heads are shaking in the vaunted halls of MLSE, pondering plans surely being prepared to ensure Brian Burke's polite and professional exit, unless James Reimer stands on his head—a la Mike Palmateer—and leads the team to the Stanley Cup over the next few months.
Burke has failed to craft a winning team, one expected to be nastily truculent, yet he also failed to meet and manage the expectations of fans and shareholders on a daily basis. Burke does not deserve to remain in that role of general manager, simply given his lack of off-ice negotiation success, any longer than Ron Wilson during his rein of sarcasm, condescension and dry wit.
Wilson failed to inspire the players and failed to win games, lost everyone's confidence and was finally fired last week. Carlyle has enjoyed immediate success, which bodes well for the aforementioned miraculous playoff run.
The Leafs, under Burke's rule, should have been able to acquire a first-line centremen, to truly anchor the team. Instead, Burke argued from the outset, he would solve the team's woes from the goaltender out.
Thus, his plan has failed. He has failed. The Leafs continue to lose games because the other team scores more goals. So, if you're going to run with youth in net, then bring in the big guns upfront. Burke will argue a decent crop of free agents are becoming available in the summer.
Certainly the person signing the cheques at the end of the day must now be questioning the divine right of Burke to make any more additions or deletions to a young and truly entertaining team. If trying his best means he failed, then it's time to move over and let someone else take charge. Nazim Kadri and Mike Zigomanis should likely get a call-up, as Burke faces the inevitable discussion each day with his bosses as to the whereabouts of the return on their investment.
There isn't an investor around today who is not influenced by the media. In Toronto, general managers of each of the city's sports franchises all must report to the media. Burke eliminated two problems early on, Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala, and for those actions he was worthily praised.
The Maple Leafs owners would obviously enjoy the media declaring the team a valuable franchise, though as an investment, it is weighed by analysts similarly to a mining operation.
In the near future, it is likely the team will enjoy a single owner and when that day comes, they will win The Cup, because they will be inspired and then return the team to the glory of winning, which is more important than a glorious share price. Thus, as is now apparent, The Leafs need a coach who can inspire not only the players, but also the demanding fans and, among them, shareholders too.
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