Op-Ed: Time for the other Brian to step up
After watching the GM of the Toronto Raptors Bryan Colangelo shift to his plan B in a stunningly quick manner following the loss of Steve Nash, it only seems appropriate that GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs Brian Burke follows in his footsteps.
Today, Colangelo was far from the defeated man that Brian Burke has appeared as over the last few weeks. Colangelo wasted no time going after the next best option at point guard in trading for Kyle Lowry
. Colangelo addressed one of the Raptors biggest needs a day after the team received devastating news that Steve Nash would be joining the Los Angeles Lakers and not the Toronto Raptors. Instead of complaining about the reality of the situation, Colangelo moved forward like a man on a mission and delivered the Raptors the point guard they need in quick fashion in order to restore hope in Raptor land. In doing so he gave up a fair return without mortgaging the future.
Burke on the other hand has been slow to act this off-season saying that he'd prefer to play by his own rules, choosing not to go after big free agents.
I won't do them, I never have, I'm not going to," he said. "That's not a contract structure we're interested in.
Burke has repeatedly insisted that he is opposed to cap circumventing deals and as a result the leafs are at a major competitive disadvantage when it comes to improving their roster in free agency. It is why they lost out on Brad Richards
last year, and it is why they weren't even in the conversation when it came to signing Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
As a Leaf fan, I find Burke's approach difficult to approve. The team has failed to make the playoffs since the lockout and has become the laughing stock of the NHL. This is unacceptable, as Toronto is considered the biggest hockey market in the world. Although the team offers no reason for hope, it should still be a desired destination for free agents with all the history and spotlight that comes with being part of the organization. Burke has promised to do whatever he can to make this team win as quick
as possible, however it appears that his stance has changed after watching his early vision result in an epic failure. He vowed from day one that his team would become tougher, which has yet to materialize, and the majority of his free agent signings have been dreadful.
Fans are getting restless with Burke, and if he is to earn the respect of Leafs nation, he must act swiftly and prudently just like the other Bryan did earlier today. After making one of the boldest trades in NHL history by acquiring Phil Kessel for two first round picks and one second rounder, Burke has been rather conservative over the last few years. Yes, he has made some good trades but none that have positioned the team to contend for a Stanley Cup. Burke has insisted that his goal is to contend for the cup and not just build to make the playoffs. Neither have come to fruition, and if Burke is to retain his job next season, he must make dramatic changes in the next few weeks.
There is no possible way that Burke is content with the current roster going into next season, which is why he has stated that the team must address its issues at centre and in the crease. The problem is that many attractive options are disappearing as Burke has stood idle for most of the off-season. Players of need like Anders Lindback, Josh Harding, Mike Ribiero and Derek Roy have been dealt for reasonable returns. The time is ripe for Burke to make a move. Players like Roberto Luongo, Paul Stastny and Ryan Getzlaf are available, but they may not be shortly if serious offers aren't made. It is now up to Burke to put aside his principles and ego if he wants to improve his club. Colangelo took the high road after losing Nash and improved his team as best he could instead of sulking. Burke must forget about getting things done to his exact preference and do what is right for the team in the short term and long term. If that means giving up a little more than he wants for Luongo, so be it. Burke is running out of time and will continue to lose out on players of need if he doesn't become more flexible.