Leafs GM to stay the course despite 'failure to deliver'
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2012 10:57PM EDT
Brian Burke joined the chorus of apologies from the Toronto Maple Leafs camp on Tuesday, asking to be excused for the team's "failure to deliver" while declaring his intentions to remain on his current course.
The general manager sided with team management after it penned a formal apology to fans over the disappointing season, saying Leafs fans deserved better than a team that has failed to make the playoffs for seven straight seasons.
"We have the best fans in the National Hockey League and all of pro sports and we need to deliver more. That loyalty needs to be rewarded," Burke told an end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.
His words echoed a public letter signed by Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, promising to make the Leafs a successful playoff team.
"The Toronto Maple Leafs are a public trust with the greatest fans in the world," read the letter released Monday. "We have fallen short of everyone's expectations, and for that we are sorry. We take full responsibility for how this team performs on the ice, and we make no excuses.
"The way this year ended was unacceptable. Results are the only measure of success in sports and the results speak for themselves."
The Leafs ended the season in a tailspin, losing 12 of their last 17 games to finish 13th in the Eastern Conference – well out of the playoffs.
Burke admitted that progress has been slow, but said his view has not changed on how to win hockey games. He reiterated his intention to build around big, aggressive players.
"I still believe that big, physical teams win hockey games," he said. "If you have two evenly-matched teams from a skill perspective, the bigger team's going to win. We need to get bigger. That's my top priority."
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle also spoke on Tuesday, siding with management on its decision to issue a formal apology.
Carlyle said it was too soon to say what will happen to the Leafs roster, but said he would be part of the decision-making process.
He said he had stressed work ethic, accountability and conditioning since being named the head coach in March.
"The level of our work ethic has to go up," he said. "The work ethic has to improve on this hockey club."