The Toronto Maple Leafs adopted a very interesting strategy this offseason when they went out and signed a number of veteran players to relatively team friendly deals. It is clear that the decision was motivated by two primary factors with the first being a desire to establish a better culture within the Maple Leafs locker room by bringing in players who have been considered leadership figures throughout their careers, and the other was the NHL's stagnant salary cap as a result of the pandemic.
I'll be honest although the moves were not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, I felt that Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas performed admirably and made the best of what was a very difficult situation for the Leafs as a result of the cap crunch. Not everyone has been a fan of all the moves made by Dubas in the offseason however and on a recent episode of the Spittin Chiclets podcast former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke outed himself as a member of that club, particularly when it comes to the decision to sign veteran center Joe Thornton.
"So go back to Joe Thornton... this is a rock and a hard place for me because I love Joe Thornton as a player and I like him as a person, I don't see a fit here this doesn't make sense to me," said Burke during the podcast. "It doesn't make sense to me, where is he gonna play? Who is he gonna play with? Whose job is he taking? What kind of look do they have [for] him?"
To be fair to Burke he did go on to add that he liked the addition of T.J. Brodie to the roster and went out of his way to mention how much he respects forward Wayne Simmonds who was also signed by the Leafs in the offseason. When it comes to Thornton however Burke questioned the addition of a player so far into his career, especially given that he feels the Leafs already have a player who fills the same role.
"I don't see the fit with Joe, he's a wonderful human being," said Burke before adding, "he's a good player, he's on the back 9, he might be putting on 17, he's up there, but he's still an effective player and a wonderful human being. I just described Jason Spezza, now they've got two of them, I don't get it."
Burke generally seemed to approve of the direction taken by the Leafs during the offseason, but the the addition of Thornton has certainly rubbed the opinionated former GM the wrong way.