Thursday, April 16, 2009

Burke's Brashness may not translate into more than a springtime diversion

If it takes two to tango, Brian Burke may find that getting an Islander on the dance floor is a little harder than he might have thought it was going to be, even if they say that they're willing to entertain prospective dance partners.

Earlier this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs President, General Manager and would be matchmaker expressed his interest in finding a way to bring anticipated number one draft pick John Tavares into the Maple Leaf hangar at Air Canada.

This despite the reality that the Leafs don't have the first pick, and never really had the chance of gaining that pick in Tuesday's draft lottery. Not to be deterred however, Burke was quick to pronounce that the Leafs would at least try and find a way to bring young John back to the GTA that once was his home. For a city that has neither of the winter season pro teams involved in their respective playoffs, dreaming of better days to come might help to take away the sting of failure and keep the faithful hopeful that the right track may soon be followed.

So with the always inquisitive Toronto media assembled and no playoffs to discuss, the Leafs unveiled what we would imagine is called operation transfer. The teams full fledged attempt to provide some hockey content while the actual playing roster goes on about what have become their normal post season activities of opening up the cottages and hitting the golf courses.

At his tour de force performance, Burke outlined how he would continue to find a way to move the Leafs into that strategic spot that will have young John Tavares pull on a Leafs jersey at the draft in Montreal in June.

It's one of those Hallmark moments that the Islanders may wish to derail, considering they are making all the right noises about wanting to build their team through the draft and more than a few of the hockey journalists on the Island are highlighting Tavares as a potential building block for the once flagship franchise.

The Islanders have long been a bit of a laughingstock in the NHL, whether it be from player developments (or lack of) or managerial and ownership issues, the team that once struck fear in many an NHL franchise now barely can rustle up even a tsk, tsk anymore.

The first pick is the kind of splash that might begin to rebuild the Islander brand in the New York area, once upon a time the Isles picked young junior hockey phenom named Denis Potvin and around him was built a multiple Stanley Cup champion and model franchise.

Those days seem so far back now, more recent Islander history has been written to show the lost opportunities, the terrible trades and the failing development of their youngest stars. Keeping the first pick and making the best choice for the future may begin to erase much of that recent history.

This season the Islanders did not show that they were ready to take that next step back into the top levels of the NHL, so trading off the rights to the number one pick for a string of players most likely won't change the immediate fortunes of the franchise.

But building around a number one pick could send the message that hockey sense has returned to Long Island. A signal that is long, long overdue in an area where winning once was routine.

Mr. Burke may want to spend the quarters making those calls, but one wonders if Mr. Snow will be willing to do anything other than to politely listen and then say thanks, but not thanks.

Newsday-- Tavares could be the Islanders' lighthouse
Sportsnet-- Read My Lips
CP Photo above from Toronto Star site

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