With the Toronto Maple Leafs sliding precariously down the standings and hope for a 2012 playoffs run all but vanquished, let's take a look at three moves (or lack of same) by General Manager Brian Burke that may have cost us the 2011-2012 NHL season.
No experienced goalie
A) Not trading for a vet goalie when it became clear that Monster was not good enough to be a #2 and Reimer wasn't recovered enough to be a #1- this was becoming clear in December and was more than evident by mid-February. Jonas G has had only two stretches in 3 years (10 games in his rookie season and mid-to-late-November 2011) where he appeared to be a NHL calibre goalie, yet he has never shown the consistency required to be a #1 goalie let alone a Stanley Cup playoffs standout netminder.
Burke's claim that Gustavsson "saved the season" when Reimer was injured rings true only if you believe barely adequate goaltending behind a powerful offence makes him a savior. He's a free agent at the end of the year and will likely return to Sweden.
B) Secretly signing Wilson to an extension and then letting him decide when to announce it, as if the players had no right to that info; wtf? A better idea may have been signing him when the Leafs had mathematically guaranteed a playoff spot, or waiting until after the season to assess the overall situation. Now MLSE will be on the hook for millions to Ron Wilson even if Randy Carlyle or Dallas Eakins is hired to helm the Buds for the 2012-2013 season.
Four year contract for oldest dude on the team?
C) Signing Liles to a multi-year dela at $4 mil plus per year. With five young defencemen on the Buds roster (Schenn, Gardiner, Gunnarsson, Franson and Phaneuf), why lock in the sixth guy for years at a huge price tag. Since when is a guy that just got traded for a 2nd round pick worth $4mil per year??? I like Liles, however a four-year, $15.5 million contract extension for a guy turning 32 this year seems out of place. I really hope J-M proves me wrong on this one.
If Gustavsson goes on a hot streak and inspires Wilson and Liles to take the Maple Leafs deep into the post-season, I will retract my claim that these were mistakes; if not, there's always next year, where youth and hope springs eternal.