And it was the right move.
The Leafs will let captain Dion Phaneuf, leading scorers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, goalies James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson lead a charge to the playoffs. Risky? Not as risky as trading great young players like Jake Gardiner, Joe Colbourne, Nazem Kadri, Luke Schenn or Reimer, for something you can't be sure of. It's a team with a functional dressing room that has clicked through much of this season and with this endorsement there is every chance they will again. Now.
The Trade Deadline according to Brian Burke
Toronto GM Brian Burke can be tiresome but over his career he's made strong decisions for his teams and he's used sound logic to arrive at those decisions. There's also a sense of humor in there, though he might not always intend it. Here's his take on the Monday, Feb. 27 trade deadline
, and the deadline in general:
“I’m debating...(having) our own trade freeze 10 days before," he told the media after the deadline passed. "Clarke MacArthur’s been traded 10 times, Grabovski’s been traded 12 times, Luke Schenn has been traded 50 times. The trade deadline's hard on players, but I think it’s murder on players in Toronto. And we just had a serious debate whether next year we’re going to do this 10 days earlier so the players can relax.”
Burke: we're in the hunt right now
Burke said hockey teams do not make changes based on 10 or 12 days of play, what Leafs fans complaining about a lack of action are basing those complaints upon. He had offers for Reimer, for example, but after his play last year, and much of this year, dealing him on a short stretch of poor play would be foolish; same with Gustavsson. Peaks and valleys are expected elements of any team's, or any player's, NHL season.
“James Reimer is the real deal and the fact is he’s scuffling right now," he said. "And we would not be in the hunt without Jonas Gustavsson. He’s bailed us out twice when James was hurt and when James stumbled during the season. The Monster’s been the reason we’ve been able to stay in the hunt. And we’re very much alive in the hunt right now.”
Leafs in Stanley Cup Playoffs - or else
If they fail to get into the Stanley Cup playoffs, not making a deal at this trade deadline may be the swan song for Brian Burke. Those are the stakes. Burke knows that and could have dealt away the future for a veteran or two. But he has too much integrity, and too much hockey sense. Given the market, the fact he handed the reigns to his players will cause criticism with every loss from hereon in. But he knew that before he took his hand off the trigger.
“It is different here. And I’m not blaming the media or being critical," Burke said Monday. "That’s life. It’s part of why people love this team. It’s the coverage. It’s part of the reason why it’s so special to play here.
"But there are times in the year where it’s a big millstone.”