Monday, April 21, 2008

Free At Last! Brian Burke is Free At Last!

With the Anaheim (Not Mighty Anymore) Ducks one and done, the "Brian Burke is headed here (Vancouver), there (Toronto) and everywhere (take your pick) as the new GM" rumors will go nuclear. Maybe, just maybe, some teams will step back and realize he is maybe not the best hockey GM on the planet.

I would argue the Cup-winning Ducks of '07 were made more by Bryan Murray's draft picks (Perry, Getzlaf, Lupul--the player that netted the Dux, Pronger in the deal with Edmonton) with a helping hand from Burkey (the Pronger and Beauchemin pickups being primary). As Canuck fans know, Burke's '07/08 was more atypical of the moves Brian tends to make. Like Mike Keenan, he loves "assembling the troops" hence the signing of Todd "all of 0 G 2 A in the playoffs" Bertuzzi and the re-signings of Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer halfway through the season. Problem was he had already signed Mathieu Schneider to replace Niedermayer. This created the salary cap problem that basically created no backup plan in the playoffs when J.S. Giguere faltered and Doug Weight turned out to be...well, not Andy McDonald.

The Burke-ster tried to trade backup netminder Ilya Bryzgalov during the fall, but ending up having to put him on waivers. Phoenix said thank you very much and turned their season around thanks to Ilya's 26-22-5 a record with a phenomenal .921 save pct. Maybe the Desert Dogs did not make the playoffs but they did make things a whole lot more interesting in Glendale, AZ.

The loss of Bryz-y also meant when Anaheim drew Dallas in rd. 1 so Giguere was their only option (apologies to rookie backup Jonas Hiller). Given Giggy had his troubles vs. Dallas during the season (.877 save pct, 3W 5L), it was sort of in the cards that the Stars knew how to get to the Ninja Turtle Man. Bryzgalov was certainly a key guy (.937 career playoff save pct) in spelling Giggy when things got rough, especially in '06 when the Dux went three rds (that was the season Giggy was distracted during the playoffs by his young kid's medical problems).

Then when Corey Perry went down and had to miss the first three games vs. Dallas, it was time for Doug Weight to step up since Andy McDonald was long gone to St. Louis. The 35 y/o Weight, with all that playoff experience, managed all of 1 assist vs. Dallas in rd. 1.

Sure, Pronger reverted to his old St. Louis days by taking stupid penalties and Stephane Robidas did a great Zubov impersonation helping the Dallas powerplay (10 PP goals in the series) to keep on clicking, but the seeds of the Ducks' "lameout" were sown by a certain GM who mismanaged his roster the season following the Cup run.

Now was it worth re-signing Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer? Maybe in Selanne's case it's a wash, but the "Playoff Beard To End All Playoff Beards" Norris Trophy D-man had no jump at all maybe bar Game 5. Niedermayer ended up with just two assists and was a minus player in the series. Scott is headed to the Hall, but he might want to rethink that retirement idea.

So Brian Burke has "won" a Cup, and I'm sure whatever team gets him will be happy when he drafts those Nathan Smiths and Kirill Koltsovs for them. Until then, thanks, Brian, for giving us the Sedins! I enjoy cycling now so much I'm actually thinking of entering the Tour de France.

No comments: