Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where is the pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence?

It will be 3 years later this month when Brian Burke joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as their General Manager. In his first press conference on November 28, 2008 he talked about changing the culture and make up of the team. The term he used was that he wanted to see more "we require a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. That's how our teams play."

Only 3 players remain from the team he inherited - Nik Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Luke Schenn. So this is his team. So after 3 years my expectation was a tough, belligerent team.

The Maple Leafs are 23rd in penalty minutes per game (11.11) near the bottom of the league and tied for 11th in fights per game (.47) which puts them in the middle of the pack. Meanwhile Burke's old team, Anaheim, is still at the top of the league in both categories. I couldn't find team stats on hits but in most games I find the Leafs are out hit. There are only 4 Leafs in the top 100 players in hits with Dave Steckel (tied at 24th), Luke Schenn (tied at 24th), Mike Komisarek (62nd) and Dion Phaneul (93rd).

I raise the point not because I want to see more penalties or fights especially with their weak penalty killing. But this appears to be another area that Brian Burke has not delivered. This team is no more tougher than the one he inherited. The culture and the work ethics may be better but I'm not inside the dressing room so I can't tell. I'm just looking at the numbers.

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