Visiting Dignitaries – Lansky

To try and expand our point of view and learn about the other 29 NHL cities, we have made asked a series of luminaries around the NHL to bring us up to speed on what’s crackin in their hood. We call this Visiting Dignitaries and this is the first by Steve Lansky. You can read about him at the end of the article.

Did anyone else know Brian Burke had moved to Toronto? Hmm. You would think that would have made the news somewhere. — W. Gretz IV

Do you trust Brian Burke?

This is the big question in Toronto these days. I don’t mean trust him with your money or trust him with your brand new sports car. I mean, as a Leaf Fan do you trust him to deliver everything to the Toronto Maple Leafs that he so bombastically promises? Trust is a strange bedfellow in the world of sports. Everyone, it seems, wants you to trust them. “We have a (three-year, five-year, long-term) plan,” is a favourite of general managers. The fan is so easily made happy. Once they know you have a “plan,” they can sleep easier. As if having the plan is anything like executing it. Trust is something that is solidified with hindsight.

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Essentially, if you think Brian Burke is the right man for the Leafs, you trust him. You trust his methods. You trust his player judgment. You trust his character. Peter Pocklington trusted Glen Sather. It got Peter Puck five Stanley Cup rings — which he disturbingly auctioned off. The Montréal Canadiens trusted Frank Selke, Sam Pollock and Toe Blake. Got them eight Cups.

The Philadelphia Flyers trusted Keith Allen and Fred Shero. Got them a pair of Cups during a time when the Flyers changed the entire culture of the game. That was a deep trust. It’s a lot easier to trust players. You can quantify what they deliver on the ice. With coaches and general managers, that trust is substantially more abstract.

Outgoing Leafs’ GM Cliff Fletcher did Burke a HUGE favour. Actually, a series of them. Cliff made sure Burke wouldn’t have to deal with Andrew Raycroft, Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker and, the mediocrity magnet himself, Mats Sundin.

Cliff allowed Burke to make a lot more pointed statements in his Welcome-to-Toronto presser than he would have been able to otherwise. Leafs’ fans, in hindsight, were able to trust Fletcher. Trust that, when he took over the job from JFJ last January, he’d be able to jump back into the GM’s saddle and ride the horse.

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I trust that Burke does have a very intricate plan in place for the ascent of the Leafs to the NHL’s upper echelon. I trust that Burke knows what he’s doing. I trust that Burke already has a very clear vision of the Maple Leafs’ puzzle pieces he wants to move and where.

The question is: will the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs trust Burke years from now, when we look up at a Stanley Cup banner at Air Canada Centre or as we head down the road on yet another boulevard of broken dreams?

Steve Lansky’s One-minute Bio

1979 –- Glen Sather hires 17-year-old Lansky as Edmonton Oilers’ team statistician.

1983 –- Lansky becomes youngest game producer in the history of Hockey Night in Canada, where guys like Bob Cole, Danny Gallivan, Ron MacLean, Don Cherry, Gary Dornhoefer and John Davidson let him think he’s their boss.

1988 –- Lansky goes long to produce The CFL on CBC, including producing one of the greatest Grey Cups every played – 1989 Roughriders v. Tiger-Cats.

Early ’90s –- Lansky refined his short game by producing a series of golf shows for TSN, including Acura World of Golf.

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Late ’90s –- Lansky signs as a free agent to produce CTV Sportsnet’s fledgling NHL hockey coverage, where guys like Nick Kypreos and Mike Keenan (between his Vancouver and Boston gigs) pretend they need his help.

Current –- Lansky works as a freelance writer and broadcaster, while periodically finding time to add to his memoirs on three decades in the Canadian sports media. He is also a fan of the OilersNation – though he lives in Toronto.

  • A plan? How can you have a plan? How do you know that someone else wants your junk? High priced junk is still junk. Would anyone out in the NHL actually take Penner's contract? (other than Oilers) I find it hard to believe that anyone can have a plan. Sure you can say we need these types of players but come on… junk is junk. Good luck trading someone that no one wants. The oilers have a plan to have two goalies. We still have three. It's really hard to execute any kind of plan in this day and age with the higher contracts.

    But by all means… Good luck Burke. Need Penner in T.O.?

  • Neil R.

    Smokin' Ray wrote:

    Would anyone out in the NHL actually take Penner’s contract? (other than Oilers)
    But by all means… Good luck Burke. Need Penner in T.O.?

    Penner has 8 points in his last 6 games… If he keeps this up he's a 60 point man this year. 4.25M doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

  • I was just using Penner as an example. Here is another one. How many teams would take Horcoff at 6.5 million? Not many.

    It's all about bang for your buck. Everyone wants bang. Look at the guys in the NHL that are on the block but are impossible to move. I think that Fletcher did a heck of a job in T.O. He was able get rid of a lot and get a little back. But if Burke thinks that he can get a good calibre 1st line there. How is he going to get it? Give up your draft picks? There really isn't much in the farm system either. I was surprised to see Steen moved. I thought he was Captain material down the line for that club. I wish the oilers made a move for him.

    It's just hard to do something with nothing. That's all.


    Here is an article that proves my point.

    And I quote…
    "An area in which Burke might be successful is acquiring draft picks and prospects. The Star suggests the Leafs have the cap space to add another team's high-priced flops if they're packaged with a high draft pick."

    See. I am willing to take your high priced junk if you are willing go give me your 1st round pick is what Burke is willing to do. Absolutely pathetic.