Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memo: For Brian Burke


Please arrive soon. Like ASAP. The ghost of Cliff Fletcher is about to buy-out high-priced veteran talent and risk screwing up Toronto's cap for the foreseeable future.

We've all been reading between the lines and fully understand you want to be here. From the not-so quiet whispers that have circulated for months to you leaking that you wouldn't be signing a contract extension with the Ducks, everything is pointing towards an inevitable divorce, so blow a gasket already and get yourself out of Anaheim. (Is it too much to ask for somebody to float a Kevin Lowe RFA contract offer rumour?)

In Toronto you'd be the Saviour. You'd be the guy who finally got all the nameless, soulless suits at MLSE to stay out of hockey operations. You could be the guy to lead the Leafs back to the Stanley Cup finals, and at the very least get us back into the playoffs. After we finish last next season, preferably.

But mostly, you'll matter. Everything you do will be big news, every quote you deliver will resonate across the hockey universe, and every media outlet will bow at your feet. You'll be like Lindsay Lohan with skates. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea. Be honest, does working in California in total anonymity really do it for you?

As you may have noticed from your place near the top of GM Mountain (behind Lamoriello and Holland, ahead of Wilson), things haven't been too great for the Buds in the post-lockout era. The best thing that's happened to Leaf fans over the last 3 years was Ottawa not winning the Cup and then nearly choking their way out of the playoffs this year. Besides that, things have been pretty lean. (Kyle Wellwood and his lovehandles aside.)

Fletcher promised next season's Leaf roster would look different and he intends on keeping his word. So much so that teams are lining up to get their hands on quality defenceman (Kubina, McCabe) who are no longer overpaid under-performers in a $55M cap world. Or to sign a hard-nosed veteran (Tucker) who might be bought out for a net savings of roughly $1M a year.

Fletcher doesn't seem to understand that next year's Leafs squad isn't likely to be any better than the 07/08 team that finished 24th overall. Instead of letting the ship run its course for one more year and potentially gaining another early 1st round pick, Cliff wants to make a statement. Something like: "Eighth place could be ours", or maybe "MLSE: Where mediocrity happens".

Burkey, you know these moves don't need to be made, especially when they are so transparent to the other teams. After winning a Cup with the Ducks, it's time for you to move on. You need a new challenge and you deserve the spotlight that Toronto will provide.

And just think of all the hair gel and bad suits you could buy on $5M a year.