By Jon Maxfield aka DnJCards

Half of the people who are about to read this article are going to agree, have their own point of view and a level head about the topic at hand. The other half, not so much… They will most likely think its more Leafs bogus because let’s face it, either you love them or you hate them.

I grew up in a family who loved the Ottawa Senators (maybe that’s why I hate them?) but somehow, someway since day one I would always cheer for the Leafs and man did I get heat for it, especially living in a small town just outside of Ottawa. It wasn’t all bad though because at that point they could make the playoffs and I had something to back me up.

I stopped watching hockey as I grew into my teen years up until the 2008-09 season when I got back into it, just as Brian Burke took over the reins of the Toronto Maple Leafs. That year I watched the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Detroit Red Wings in 7 games to win the Stanley cup. My younger brother being a Wings fan, was quite upset about it but he was able to comfort himself in making fun of the pain that Leafs fans go through without playoffs.


Looking back, I thought for sure the Leafs would be in the playoffs by now but still nothing. Not all hope is lost though as they have made strides both small and huge towards a great team. While I know they completely fell off the wagon last year, sitting in a playoff spot all season until crunch time in the last two months just completely losing it, yes it hurt but i’m not worried about it.

I hear a lot of Leafs fans say “get rid of Burke, He’s useless” but I disagree. I think Burke has done a tremendous job as the General Manager of one of the biggest hockey franchises in the league, if not the biggest. I believe in the beginning yes, he over estimated the team, making the timing of the Phil Kessel trade horrible but so what? The guy has been a consistent 30 goal scorer for us, when put with actual NHLers he shows his underestimated passing abilities (I’m sure if Bozak hit the net at least 50% of the time at minimum Kessel stats would have looked like they did last year, in years before).

Speaking of trades, let’s look at some of the ones he has pulled off since being here. We all of course know of the Kessel trade I spoke about in the above paragraph. The Phaneuf trade; packaging up a bunch of quantity to get quality, not just Phaneuf but Aulie served as a great defender before being swapped for F Carter Ashton. Trading Francois Beauchemin for a stud young defenseman in Jake Gardnier and so called “salary dump” in Joffrey Lupul who was a PPG player on our first line last season. Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney for up and coming defender Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi, who yes is overpaid but was useful last season, Then lastly just recently trading Luke Schenn for the 2nd overall pick in 2007 power forward James Van Riemsdyk. I’d say that is some pretty decent trading for the Leafs.

Since taking over the team, Burke has been GM of the Leafs for 3 drafts. In those draft he has added a lot of prospects to the Leafs cupboards in the early and late rounds. Looking back to the 2009 draft Burke drafted Kadri (7th overall), Blacker (58th overall) and D’Amigo late in the draft in the 6th round. In 2010 while not having a first round pick we were able to pick up great additions in the 2nd and 3rd rounds in Brad Ross and Greg McKegg who have both shown signs of becoming NHLers. Last year, we were without our first once again but we still managed to pick twice in the top 30 selecting a burquesque player in Tyler Biggs and defenseman Stuart Percy.

This year, taking Morgan Rielly 5th overall and stealing Matthew Finn in the second round has put us in a pretty good spot for prospects.

Last year’s addition of Jake Gardiner (via the Ducks) and Frattin (drafted) to the Leafs line up was a big upgrade. Gardiner was outstanding for the Leafs the whole season, while making a few rookie mistakes he learnt quite a bit and by the end of the season was really coming to form. Frattin took great strides throughout the season being called up and down to the Marlies he showed off his will to drive to the net and his incredible release on the puck. Colborne and Kadri also making stints in the NHL showed improvements each time they were called up.

Last season the Toronto Marlies ended second in the AHL standings making it to the finals in the playoffs where they lost to the Norfolk Admiral. As a Leafs fan I don’t look at it as we lost the finals but we our young players that played in those games gained tons of experience that player needs.

I’d bet you $1000 right now on the spot that the 2011-12 Toronto Marlies who made it to the finals would have their way with the train wreck of a team that the Toronto Maple Leafs had when Brian Burke took over in 2008, doesn’t that in itself show that somethings going right.

So I ask, do you Beleaf?