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Burke Following Through on Plan for Leafs

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For me, the highlight of an otherwise pedestrian 2009 NHL Entry Draft came in the first round as Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke prepared to step to the podium to announce his team's pick. Stymied in his efforts to move higher, Burke had to settle for drafting Nazem Kadri of the London Knights with the seventh overall pick. ↵

↵But just making the pick wasn't going to be enough for Burke, who had come to Toronto in the middle of last season after leaving his GM job in Anaheim. You see, Burke isn't only the smartest GM in all of hockey (just ask him, he'll tell you himself), he's also the one who's most skilled at leveraging the media for his own purposes. ↵

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↵Burke was wearing a microphone and had the cameras trained on him during the telecast. Having already sniffed out that the Ottawa Senators also were after Kadri, Burke couldn't help but tweak Ottawa GM Bryan Murray on camera before making the pick. ↵

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↵It was all just another day at the office for Burke, who is making the most of his first full offseason with the Leafs by following through with his promise to remake the squad. Though he's been stifled in his attempts to deal Tomas Kaberle to Boston in exchange for winger Phil Kessel, he's more than made up for it on the free agent front. ↵

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↵First, he signed tough guy Colton Orr away from the New York Rangers, a move perfectly in line with a GM who's said repeatedly that fighting is not only an integral part of the culture of hockey, but also an integral part of playing winning hockey. ↵

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↵Then he took a critical piece away from his team's greatest rival, the Montreal Canadiens, when he signed defenseman Mike Komisarek to a free agent contract. He beefed up his blue line again Monday by importing free agent defenseman Francois Beauchemin from Anaheim, and followed it up on Tuesday by snagging one of the more attractive second-tier free agents, goalie Jonas Gustavsson, from the Swedish Elite League. ↵

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↵Toss in a free agent tampering charge against head coach Ron Wilson, and all in all, it was a pretty good start to an offseason in which Burke's job demands not only that he rebuild the Leafs into a Cup contender as soon as possible, but that he also regularly feed the media beast that can't seem to get enough of covering Canada's favorite hockey team. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.