Originally posted on Obsessed With Sports  |  Last updated 4/10/12

Brian Burke. It’s that simple. The man is truly awesome. And his latest interaction with the media lives up to that hype I just placed on him.

“The Pittsburgh model? My ass,” Burke said when asked about Pittsburgh’s post-lockout rebuild.

“They got a lottery. They won a (expletive) lottery (in 2005 for Sidney Crosby) and they got the best player in the game. Is that available to me? Should we do that? Should we ask the League to have a lottery this year, and maybe we pick first?”

It’s a funny quote that also accurately illustrates the luck that goes into turning around a franchise. Of course, Burke is likely also harboring negative feelings towards  Pittsburgh, because it is widely accepted that the Pens tanked games that year to be in a better spot to draft Crosby.

Burke is a straight shooter. From all I have seen, he’s the kind of man the fans of a team can get behind and really root for.

All is not good in Burke’s world, though. I can’t really attest to Burke’s hockey knowledge. In fact, I can’t really rate anyone’s hockey knowledge. I do know that things went south for Toronto very quickly this season. The Maple Leafs did something that is nearly unheard of in the NHL.

At December 1st, the team held a playoff spot. Historically, by December the playoff teams have largely been determined. The only thing that shifts very much in the new year are the seedings. This past December 1st, the Leafs were in 6th place in the Eastern Conference. When the season was in the books the team had fallen all the way to 13th place.

That type of collapse is never a good thing. And it’s even more dire in the NHL. It’s rare for a playoff team to have that much of a fall from grace. Thus, there is a definite reason as to why Burke is a bit snippy with the media these days.

*****

I was first introduced to Burke at last year’s Sloan Sports Conference in Boston. Not only was he largely out of place because he was a hockey guy in a room mainly filled with people form the other three major American sports leagues, but he was also a last minute fill-in for a sports ownership panel. (Apparently, he is part owner of some minor league hockey team in Canada.)

Wyc Grousbeck actually laid into Brian pretty good at one point. It was a dig regarding the “small-timey-ness” of Burke’s ownership role. Burke rolled with the punches. That’s exactly what he is going to have to do this off-season in the hockey hotbed that is Canada.

At this point in my sports fan life I often find myself needing more to grasp onto than regional affiliations or star players. On the whole, I don’t root for teams based on those criteria any longer. In this regard, Brian Burke is a perfect figure to latch onto and root for. Thus, my new affinity for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If you need any more of a reason — click here.

The NHL’s draft lottery will be held later tonight. I’m rooting for the Leafs, if only to hear Burke’s victory speech.

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