The next domino

What comes next? It’s a question that all of Leafs Nation is asking.

It’s been thirteen games since the firing of head coach Ron Wilson and there’s been little change with a team that was destined for the playoffs a month ago. Randy Carlyle, who has lost five of the six games he has coached since being introduced, was brought in to reignite the flame in an organization that has been spiraling down since mid-February.

After Brian Burke’s deals on deadline day – which were subpar at best – there has been no real change. Should the Leafs have gone after a player like Rick Nash? Sources say the asking price for a player like Nash was two roster players, two prospects and a draft pick; all of which the Leafs have.

The Leafs could have had Nash, but the stubborn man that Brian Burke is, said no. Granted, the Leafs had offers to get four first-round picks and in an already weak draft, Burke did well not making a move there. But did he miss out on the solution? All he had to throw in was Jake Gardiner, who is arguably the Leafs best defensemen as of late, but is he worth trading to get a Nash-caliber player? I think so.

People say Nash is overrated, and had he been playing in another market, this may be true, but when you look at the players he is surrounded by in Columbus, he would have been a remarkable asset to Toronto and the coveted power forward that the Leafs need.

Sure Gardiner will be a great NHL player some day, but then again, that’s the same with most players the Leafs trade away.

Look at Matt Stajan, a former leaf, and now one of Calgary’s better players, who scored the overtime winner on Tuesday night to put the Flames in a four-way tie for eighth place in the West.

All of this brings up the question: who is next? Clearly, a coaching change didn’t work. Leafs Nation has given Burke four years, and despite establishing a contending team in the American Hockey League, he has yet to do so in the big leagues.

Contrary to popular belief, Brian Burke has never built a championship team. When he won the cup in Anaheim, he did not build the team. When he got there, players like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were already in place.

All Burke did was bring in a veteran presence in Chris Pronger, who though he helped win the cup, was not the sole reason. On that note, it was the previous General Manger in Anaheim (Brian Murray), who was responsible for putting together the pieces that Burke ultimately used in the Pronger deal, so Burke’s contribution to the team was minimal at best.

In Vancouver, he drafted the Sedin twins and while looking good now, they’ve come close, but haven’t won a national league championship either. So, as sad as it is to say, yet again, the Leafs are still years away from being a contender.

The Leafs have three NHL ready general mangers in their system: Brian Burke, Cliff Fletcher and Dave Nonis, yet they still can’t even squeak into the playoffs.

Within the last two years, the team has seen an overhaul in players, a change in coaching and a change in ownership. Yet there is no change in performance. If they don’t make the playoffs this year, they will be suffering not only the longest Stanley Cup drought, but one of the longest playoff droughts in the NHL as well.

So, we must ask, who is the next domino to fall? How much longer will it be until the ACC is filled with, F-I-R-E B-U-R-K-E chants? It’s something only time can tell. Regardless of what comes next, the Leafs have a pivotal off-season ahead of them.

For now, lets hope Toronto can get that long awaited top-line centre, before we start up again in October.

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