But Burke's been getting a lot of exposure lately, and for once I don't really see a post out there that echoes my point of view: That Burke is laughing at each and every single person giving his claims serious exposure.
Since the offseason started Burke has said two things: Our goal next year is the playoffs, our goal this year is to move up as much as we can to try and get the guy we want most. That's simply it, and the amount of writing being given to those simple concepts is baffling.
But let's put some things in perspective here:
1. Burke said this: "The goal for next year is to make the playoffs," Burke said. "If that's not the goal of every GM, they should get out of the business."
Burke is not guaranteeing the Leafs a playoff spot next year (we leave that to coaches who desperately love the taste of crow). He is not saying he will build our club into a contending team overnight. He's saying that our guys will be expected to do their best to win every game, regardless of circumstances. They won't win, but that's irrelevant; the point is that even though next year will be a losing season for us Burke is making it clear that losing will never be acceptable to this organization. It sounds like a bold claim, but it's really just a very simple affirmation of some basic values.
2. Burke also said this: "We'll immediately attempt to move up," Burke said during a morning news conference. "We're going to talk to everyone between us and the first pick and see what the landscape is.
"We're going to see what it costs and we're going to try and move up."
Is that claiming Tavares as Leaf property? No. We'll see what it costs? Try to move up? Burke sounds like a guy prospecting nicer apartments. This statement doesn't say anything significant either. Every GM in the league that isn't picking #1 should be looking to move up. Every GM in the league should want to pick #1. They usually don't because the asking price is often unreasonable. The fact that Burke has vocalized this sentiment doesn't somehow make it a prophecy.
Saying that when we play we'll play to win and when we pick high we want to pick the highest isn't exactly throwing down a gauntlet here, it's simple stuff. Burke is making a statement, but it's not a statement for the Isles, or for anyone else in the league. It's a statement for the fans and players that the organization will never be satisfied with mediocrity, and it's a sad reflection on the state of this franchise that those words somehow seem shocking or bold.
Remember, Burke knows the media well and is a guy with a sense of humour when it comes to people shoving microphones in his face. Near the end of the season he was asked about signing NCAA free agents on Hockey Night in Canada. When Tyler Bozak's name came up Burke said "Who?" The name was repeated and Burke said "Ah... yeah, I think I've heard of him." with a chuckle before launching into his response. Weeks later, Bozak was signed by the club, along with Christian Hanson. I have no doubt the guy right now is having a little chuckle over the furor that his basic statements have caused.
Furor which has spread out into the blogosphere, such as some smug articles here and here. Look, the media's tendencies to blow little things out of proportion when Toronto is involved are almost legendary, do we really need to do this all over again? I also love that posts specifically directed towards media coverage still manage to take the usual cheap shots at the franchise, just because. Did anybody stop to think that maybe Burke was stating the obvious? That maybe this stuff was important for Leafs players and fans to hear? Or that maybe, just maybe, Burke knew this stuff would blow up in the papers and he's having a little fun with all of you?