Temper Your Imagination, Leaf Fans

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Feb. 20) – If it were up to others, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke would pull the trigger on a significant deal before the NHL trade deadline to:

a) Transform his slumping team into an instant Stanley Cup contender;

b) Sustain a pattern and reputation of high-level activity involving prominent players;

c) Provide all-day Internet worms a trace of social interaction.

And, not necessarily in that order.

Mercifully for grounded followers of the Blue and White (they can be found, you just have to look hard), Burke will be influenced by none of the aforementioned. It isn’t difficult to discern what the Leafs need to augment a fairly talented roster and maintain a reasonable hope of qualifying for the playoffs: goaltending insurance; a big body in the middle and – most significantly – improved ruggedness along the boards.

Offering the sort of mega-package that might induce Scott Howson to unload Rick Nash isn’t the way to go… even if it tends to letters b and c above.

Filling two of the three requirements in smaller transactions - those that enable Burke to retain prospects – would be a fine accomplishment for the Leafs’ GM. To the credit of Burke and his scouting staff, the club has a cadre of young players it may be able to rely on in the not-too-distant future. Preserving and building upon that element to either deploy in the NHL, or to help close a deal at a time when landing a Rick Nash might truly make a difference, is far-more practical than creating false hope right now.

BRIAN BURKE, WORKING THE PHONES AT ROGERS ARENA FRIDAY AFTERNOON.

As I wrote from Vancouver on the weekend, this is the best Leaf team of the post-lockout era. But, that isn’t saying much. Though Burke has a tendency to excite the club’s frantic following with his unbridled confidence and candor, he didn’t step off the boat yesterday. Or the day before. He can see, along with others devoid of rose-colored specs, that the Leafs are very much a work-in-progress; not a team capable of being nudged over the top by a costly acquisition.

He is also savvy enough to know that rival GMs may sense vulnerability if the Leafs continue to struggle in the days leading up to the Feb. 27 deadline.

Of course, that doesn’t rule out a dice-throw. Burke has performed a high-wire act through much of his managerial career and has never been shy to play with the big boys. He is assuredly capable, though, of deciphering between a flashy gimmick and a legitimate, closing transaction, such as the one he executed on behalf of the Anaheim Ducks by obtaining Chris Pronger in 2006, leading to a Stanley Cup title the following spring.

Leaf fans dream of Burke repeating that scenario here. And, it may very well happen.

But not before a lame defensive club lacking in size and trench-toughness is upgraded. 

AIRPORT ART

Upon landing here in Toronto on Sunday after a four-hour flight from Vancouver, we taxied for 10 minutes at night to Terminal One. Along the way, I activated the “fireworks” function of my Nikon Coolpix camera – that which holds open the shutter for roughly two seconds, allowing light to be artfully distorted. In each of the first four images below, you’ll be able to make out the red sign atop the Pearson Airport Sheraton… and the letters that spell the hotel name. The distortion was caused by the Airbus-321 bumping along the tarmac, or by my hand moving slightly up and down. The figures that resemble heart-beats on an electrocardiogram are all single lights - either embedded in the tarmac; shining down from the top of large poles; from the front or back of service vehicles (cars and trucks); warning lights atop the airport buildings, or from other planes on the ground. The effect is quite remarkable.

Again, look for the word “Sheraton”:

THE ABOVE IMAGE IS FROM A SINGLE ROW OF LIGHTS ATOP AN AIRPORT HANGAR.

YOU CAN MAKE OUT THE INTERIOR-GREEN HUMP OF THE MAIN AIRPORT TERMINAL AT PEARSON (ABOVE). THE UNDULATING RED STREAK ACROSS THE BOTTOM IS A SINGLE RED LIGHT IN THE TARMAC, ACTING AS A DIRECTIONAL BARRIER AT NIGHT. ANOTHER IMAGE OF THE TERMINAL APPEARS AT LEFT OF THE PHOTO BELOW.

AN AIR CANADA AIRBUS-320 PARKED AT TERMINAL ONE (ABOVE AND BELOW), ITS TAIL AND WING LIGHTS EFFECTED BY THE CAMERA’S FUNCTION.

 

Email: howardlberger@gmail.com

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Facebook: Howard Berger [Thornhill ON]

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 in 2011/2012 Season

5 Responses to “Temper Your Imagination, Leaf Fans”

  1. Ter says:

    I’m sick of heanirg this.Yeah, there are a lot of fans who only stick by their own team. I’m sure there are plenty of those types of fans in every city.Why aren’t they watching the Sens? The rivalry. Duh, it’s painful to watch your biggest rival reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Not only that, but Buffalo is almost as big of a rival. Who the hell cares about ratings. Leave us alone. I’m sick of EVERYONE grouping ALL Leafs fans as dumb, not real hockey fans , ignorant, etc. because not all of them are. It’s not our fault MLSE is so money driven, that no one can actually go to the ACC to watch games.By the way, I intend to watch (or listen on the radio) ALL of the playoffs.[]

  2. Doug Stewart says:

    Howard,

    I believe that the deadline targets for Brian Burke should be as follows:

    1) Centre
    a/ Dreaming – Ryan Getzlaf / Patrick Sharp / Eric Stall
    b/ Sanity – Derek Roy / Paul Statsny / Jordan Stall
    c/ Future – Cody Hogson / Lars Eller / Sam Gagner

    2) Power Forward
    a/ Dreaming – Rick Nash /
    b/ Sanity – Paul Gaustad / Dustin Penner / Taylor Pyatt / R.J. Umberger
    c/ Future – Zack Kassian / Anthony Stewart?

    Goalie- Stick with Monster & Reims… be patientr
    Pray – We dont trade Gardner and we do trade Komisarek
    LASTLY – Don’t overpay!!!! We’re not nearly a Stanley Cup Contender yet. If we make the playoffs this year; let’s be happy with that and not blow our future for one series win.

    Howard, keep on doing what makes you the best hockey beat reporter ever…. dogged determination!

  3. Brent says:

    It will be a successful deadline if Burke can make the playoffs and not give up any highly touted prospects or picks. If that means no moves, so be it.

  4. gary says:

    Stock pile with assets, picks and prospects, so when the time and deal is right for the present without giving in on the future we can make an impact trade using multiple assets. Priorities in this order are, goaltending, better board play and a shut down line. Takes time, maybe another 3 years, can we wait?

  5. Brad says:

    I honestly think the best thing Burke could do is be a seller at the trade deadline. People are putting too much value in making the playoffs THIS year. There is no point in the Leafs just squeaking into the playoffs only to get their teeth kicked down their throats in round 1. The franchise would be much better off using this as another opportunity to draft in the top 10 and try to fill at least one of the many massive holes on the team. The Leafs are not going to rise above perpetual mediocrity until they find a #1 center, a #1 goalie and more size & grit in their top 6 forwards and the best way to get those is via the draft.

    I love Mikhail Grabovski but if he wants a penny more than $5mil per season Burke should try to trade him for a late 1st and a decent prospect. With so few good rental forwards available this season this would be a perfect time to get maximum value out of Grabo.