Brian Burke has lashed out at an ESPN survey ranking the Toronto Maple Leafs as the worst professional sports franchise in North America.
The ornery general manager met with the media during the Leafs' annual charity golf tournament. Burke bristled three minutes into the brief scrum when a reporter asked what he thought of the survey, which ranked the Maple Leafs near the bottom in every category.
"I don't think ESPN knows a single thing about hockey," he said. "I think their hockey coverage stinks. I don't think they know anything about Canada, I don't think they know anything about hockey."
While Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside et al may disagree with that assertion, the survey did raise plenty of questions as to exactly how scientific - and accurate - it was.
Sean McIndoe, writer of the popular Down Goes Brown blog and a new author, went on a Twitter diatribe upon learning of the survey - and the Leafs' position in it. Among his points:
-- Leafs players dead last in "accessibility to fans"? Say what you want about MLSE, but they do a ton of charity/community stuff.
(And it's interesting that Burke addressed the survey while attending one of the club's most popular charities of the year.)
-- Leafs are dead last in fan promotions/contests/giveaways? Good god, I wish. They literally never shut up with that stuff all game long.-- There's a category under ownership for "Will not leave", and Leafs are 22nd in NHL. Apparently the Leafs might move, but the (Nashville Predators) never will.
As for the rest of Burke's chat with reporters, he had little to say on the current negotiations between the owners and players ("I wish I could say more ... you guys know me," he joked) while conceding that there isn't much movement going on as teams wait to see what comes of talks between the league and the players' association. He added that the potential for a work stoppage is just "part of pro sports," pointing out that the NBA and NFL had similar labor issues a year ago.
Burke also suggested the Leafs aren't in close to making any additional moves after adding forward James van Riemsdyk and Jay McClement earlier in the offseason. With a No. 1 center and some depth still on his to-do list, Burke insists it's still "business as usual" where his club is concerned.