Brian Burke still has one year remaining on his contract with the Ducks. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Conventional wisdom has suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs have moved on in their search for a GM, but there’s a very sizeable segment of the hockey community that believes Brian Burke will be running the Leafs before training camp opens in September.
Every executive I’ve spoken to over the past month says they’re convinced the Anaheim Ducks will at some point this summer free Burke from his obligations and allow him to join the Leafs.
“He’ll be there,” is a common refrain, “and he’ll be there this summer.”
Sometime around June 25, five days after the draft, is the over-under date for most executives.
Burke still hasn’t signed his contract extension and apparently has no intention of doing so. The thinking is that rather than having a lame-duck GM hanging around who clearly doesn’t want to be there, the Ducks will finally tell Burke if he wants to go to Toronto that badly, then he’d best be on his way.
And that’s a shame because not only will the Ducks lose Burke, they won’t have been able to demand any compensation for the Leafs essentially poaching him from their organization. (As an aside, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is reportedly not at all pleased the Leafs made their pursuit of Burke so public.)
It was Bettman who, three years ago, quashed the notion of compensation for hiring people under contract when Peter Chiarelli went from the front office of the Ottawa Senators to become GM of the Bruins. Suffice it to say it was something of an ugly affair and Bettman ruled then that compensation would no longer be forthcoming to teams that allowed their executives to speak to, or be hired by, other teams.
It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but now the law of unintended consequences is kicking in. Now the Ducks have a GM who clearly doesn’t want to be there and the only thing keeping them from letting him go where he wants is compensation.
Makes you wonder why any team in the league would ever let one of its front office people interview with any other team.
After all, what is the upside for them? And in the end, the league ends up losing out because people who might be qualified to come in and help a team aren’t doing so because there is no compensation going back the other way.
A NOVEL IDEA
The NHL might want to consider using two pucks for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final. That way the Pittsburgh Penguins might get to play, too.
The Detroit Red Wings are two wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup not because they’ve choked the offensive power out of the Penguins, but because they’ve choked the will out of them.
And because of that, it’s going to require a choke of cataclysmic proportions for the Red Wings not to win their fourth Stanley Cup in the past 11 years.
The Red Wings haven’t allowed a goal in this series largely because the Penguins have essentially been spectators through the first two games. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin do their best work when the puck is on their sticks.
Their problem is that the Red Wings have it all the time and it’s frustrating the living daylights out of the two stars. Crosby has been valiant, but utterly flummoxed, in his attempts to get something going offensively, while Malkin hasn’t looked this bad since he lollygagged his way through the YoungStars Game at the all-star festivities in 2007.
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