Saturday, May 22, 2010

Will Nonis Replace Burke?

dave nonis brian burke leafs

Brian Burke has publicly stated that he is not interested in a five-year re-build. Bolding acquiring Phil Kessel indicates as much. Whenever you trade two first round picks (and a high second!) you are basically saying, “draft schmaft”.

I don’t really blame him. The GM position for the Maple Leafs takes a large toll on a person. One year as the GM of the Leafs is equal to three human years. That means a five-year re-build will take 15 years off Brian Burke’s life! No wonder he wants this done quickly, he won’t be around to see it finished otherwise.

Thankfully, the Leafs have assembled a super management team of former GMs and the two-year extension signed by Dave Nonis ensures that the super best friends, Burke and Nonis, will continue to work together for the immediate future.

Dave Nonis’ decision to re-sign with the Leafs was welcomed news to me, as he’s clearly a very smart hockey mind. After the Leafs allowed JFJ to drown without even the most modest support I’m always thankful when the Leafs hire or keep a bright hockey mind. I loved when they had Joe Nieuwendyk and I even like Cliff Fletcher in an advisory role – even though his senility wasted draft picks on Jamal Mayers and Ryan Hollweg.

I worried Nonis would leave the Leafs after his contract expired for a higher position with another club, which was definitely in play since he was reportedly a candidate for the GM position in Tampa Bay. He’s already been the GM of a high-profile team (see Vancouver, people sometimes respect you), so I worried he wouldn’t be satisfied playing second fiddle somewhere else (even though that somewhere else is Toronto).

I’m sure this will not be the first time that a team has interest in the former Canucks’ GM. However, Nonis has stated that Toronto is the ideal situation for his family. Additionally, he says he does not want to leave Toronto with so much work left to be done. Burke and Nonis are trying to win a Cup you know. Aside from these two reasons to stay I believe that Nonis has a long-term future with the Leafs and I don’t just mean in an Assistant GM capacity.

Nonis’ decision to re-sign with the Leafs, combined with Burke’s proclamation that he isn’t interested in a long re-build, might indicate that Nonis is set to take over for Burke when the time comes.

Brian Burke signed a six-year deal with the Maple Leafs on November 29, 2008, which means that his deal expires after the 2013-2014 season. This is actually two seasons after Nonis’ new contract will expire, so it may be premature to suggest his extension is reason to believe he’s the successor to the Leafs’ GM spot, but I’m going with it anyways.

If Burke’s proclamation regarding his abhorrence for five-year re-builds is actually true (and not just talking for talking’s sake) then it’s entirely possible he has had the exact same conversation with Nonis. If that is the case, Nonis knows that he has a job as GM in the greatest hockey market in the world (suck it, Montreal). The pressure is enormous and the stakes high, but it sure beats living in South Florida where the only move you make that ends up in the papers is killing hookers.

The Leafs will not be caught again without a competent GM like they did when JFJ was given the role after Pat Quinn was told he could only coach the team. This was easily the most disastrous reign in my history as a Leafs fan and it did major damage to the Leafs. MLSE is barely competent enough to realize they can’t have this again. They will ensure they have a viable replacement ready when Burke decides he’s too old to be GM of the team or (this will not happen) he is fired.

While Burke may be saying he doesn’t want to do a long five-year re-build because of his age, this might only mean he doesn’t want to be a part of the process in the GM capacity. Burke is also the team President and may relinquish his GM duties and focus solely on this position at some point during his current contract. Could that be two years in the future when Nonis’ new contract expires?

Personally, I feel Nonis will replace Burke at some point, but I just don’t see Burke leaving the GM role before the Leafs win a Stanley Cup. That’s what he came here to do and, as GM, he is the centre of attention (a position he obviously loves).

Sure, being the President of the Leafs when they win the Stanley Cup will be fulfilling, but the true glory will go to the GM who made the moves to accomplish the feat and I just don’t see Burke allowing another man to receive that.

On the other hand, maybe Nonis just wanted nothing to do with Tampa Bay and that’s all this extension is. Tampa Bay is an organization playing in front of a handful of fans in one of the absolute worst states in the United States not just for hockey, but for sports in general. People in Florida like college sports and football. That’s it. Sure they support the Heat when they’re about to win a championship, but that’s the only exception. Check out the Marlins’ attendance (and they've won two championships!).

Aside from being the possible successor to Burke in Toronto, I’m sure that Nonis will receive plenty of offers from well run NHL franchises in the future.

If you’re a hot chick in high school that has a hotter best friend you don’t just date the first nerd that comes asking just to prove that you too are hot stuff. No! Did Lisa Turtle ever relent and give in to Screech? No! (Well, she probably did at one point to further some story line, but it was certainly a pity date and she didn’t put out). Yes, Dave Nonis is like that hot chick from high school always over shadowed by her bustier best friend. Yes, Dave Nonis is Lisa Turtle.


Ted Rigby said...

Really made me wait for that Saved by the Bell reference, Roy. But I liked it. I would also go as far to say that Cliff Fletcher is Mr. Belding; curmudgeonly but in the end, just wants to go along with what the kids think is hip.

Matt Horner said...

I contemplated relating the Leaf front-office to the females at Bayside. Burke would be Kelly since he's always the centre of attention and Fletch would be Jesse because despite always being around, no one really cares what she/he says.

Anonymous said...

I guess that makes Dion Phaneuf the Zack Morris?

Matt Horner said...

I'd say Dion Phaneuf is AC Slater. They're both kind of dicks and both transferred to their new locales mid-season.

Still that leaves us without a Zack Morris. Still thinking about that one.

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