2011, Hockey, Sports, The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke

The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke: Tim Connolly

First, a note. I have been on vacation for a week and before that I had a busy June so I haven’t been keeping up with these Leafs posts. Rest assured I will get to them in time. For the moment, I am skipping ahead to the Connolly signing and I will discuss the other stuff over the next few weeks.

About 4 or 5 months ago this was a joke to me. I was truly petrified the Leafs would sign Brad Richards to a blockbuster deal (as they almost did) but I also figured he might not want to play here – turns out he wanted more money now, in the shape of a gigantic signing bonus – so I joked around that the Leafs would be leading the way in the Tim Connolly sweepstakes. This was a joke to me because we are talking about Tim Connolly here. That is Tim “I never finish a season” Connolly. (I stand corrected: he twice played full seasons… at the beginning of the last decade…)

I mean, if Richards has injury concerns circling about him, certainly Connolly should be in some kind of long-term-care program. The man is always hurt.

When he isn’t hurt, he’s… I believe the sports term is ‘enigmatic.’ Scott Cullen rightly points out that he is a 0.83 PPG player since the lockout. Despite what most fans will tell you, that actually easily qualifies him as a legitimate top 3 forward in this league (actually a top 2) – at least if talent was distributed equitably by team, as we know it is not.

The biggest problem with the healthy Connolly is that he isn’t consistent. Sometimes he is significantly better than 0.83 PPG – no doubt, aided by a good finisher like Vanek, but I haven’t done the research – and sometimes he is terrible. We should take warning from the fact that Buffalo had absolutely no interest in resigning this guy.

Yes, 2 years at age 30 is not particularly risky. But the salary, though relatively low now for the ever more expensive NHL, is hardly appropriate for a guy whose career high is 68 points. The only hope is that Connolly can find some chemistry with Kessel and achieve something more than Kessel’s -20.

For those of you who like this signing I say to you this:

If, on November 29th, 2008, I said to you, “As a condition of Brian Burke’s hiring you must accept Joffrey Lupul, Tim Connolly and Phil Kessel as your #1 line of the future” what would you have said to the hiring of Burke?

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