Burke not panicking about Leafs' playoff chances
Web Staff, cp24.com
Published Tuesday, October 4, 2011 9:50PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:10AM EDT
With a new NHL season just days away, the Toronto Maple Leafs are under even greater pressure to make the playoffs but the team's general manager isn't panicking about its chances.
Amid mounting fan unrest and calls for major changes, Brian Burke is confident the franchise is on the right path towards making the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
"We are well on our way towards fixing this," Burke told CP24's Melissa Grelo during an hour-long interview Tuesday afternoon.
(Watch the entire interview, which has been broken into six segments, by clicking on the links below the image of Burke on this page)
Burke said he believes in the roster he has put together for the team's upcoming season, which gets underway against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday, but he's prepared to make some moves if the team struggles.
"We believe in these kids but I'm not very patient if we stumble," said Burke, who doubles as the Leafs' president.
The Leafs haven't made the post-season since a lockout scrapped the 2003-04 season.
Burke said the team has a better shot at making the playoffs because of its post-season moves, including the signings of centre Tim Connolly and defenceman John-Michael Liles.
"We thought hard about a lot of different things and we're happy with the moves we made," Burke said.
During the interview, Burke took questions from CP24 viewers, who put him on the hot seat with queries about free agents he didn't sign, Sean Avery being put on waivers Tuesday, and the status of head coach Ron Wilson, who is in his final contract year.
Burke said he hasn't set any benchmarks for his coaching staff and he'd prefer to make a roster shakeup instead of a coaching change if the team struggles.
"If we have a good start we can go to him and extend his contract," Burke said. "I'm not planning on making a coaching change and I'm not planning on having to make a coaching change."
Burke called Wilson one of the top 10 coaches in league history and said the bench boss is underappreciated in Toronto.
Burke also spoke to CP24 about the health of forward Nazem Kadri, head shots and concussions in sports, a banana-throwing incident at a NHL pre-season game in London, Ont., and homophobic slurs uttered by players.