The 2008 Maple Leafs [. . .] could only manage a single second-round pick by trading away what was arguably their most valuable asset at that time: Nik Antropov. But it’s worth noting that the same day Burke traded Antropov for a second-rounder, he also managed to get another second-round pick for Dominic Moore, which is excellent value when you consider that Moore has never achieved stats to the level that he did for the Leafs in 08-09.
The rebuild had begun. Burke was selling off what assets the Leafs had as best as he could. The team was still terrible, and there was a long, long way to go. But at least it was getting better. In 2008, the Leafs had worse than nothing. By the end of 2009, they’d managed to bring themselves back to plain-old “nothing.”
In Burke’s first full season with the Leafs, his roster moves got bigger and bolder. Over the summer he wisely got rid of failed goaltending prospect Justin Pogge. He also acquired yet another second-round pick in exchange for two non-impact players.
[. . .]
Toronto is still some distance from Stanley Cup contention, but the Leafs are a hell of a lot better than they were when Brian Burke first inherited the team. Had Burke not been so unceremoniously canned, it seems rather likely that Leafs fans would have started to see consecutive trips to the post-season for Toronto.
[. . .]
We’ll miss Burke’s truculence in press conferences almost as much as we’ll miss his excellent advocacy and charity work in Toronto over the past several years. (I mean, hell, we even selected Burke as a 2012 Hero for his efforts in promoting LGBTQ rights.) As for the Toronto Maple Leafs, we’re hoping that Burke’s vision for the team will come to fruition, even though Burke himself will have moved on.