On the state of the Toronto Maple Leafs …
“I think we put some real key pieces in place, but we haven’t put it all together. Hopefully, the coaching change will do that. We know we need to get bigger and I would like to have a Brian Burke team and I have not delivered on that yet.
“We need to put other pieces on the chessboard. I liken this to a chess match. People say it’s not a Brian Burke team, but you take the pieces in a chess game – you may not want to do a particular move at a particular time, but if it’s there you take it. So we haven’t put the pieces exactly where we’d like, that’s apparent, and some of the things we counted on didn’t happen.
“If you’d asked me going into this season what I wasn’t worried about, I would have said goaltending, our second line. Our goaltending has not been what we’d like it to be, and our second line was invisible for the first 30 games.”
On sending two first-round picks and a second-rounder to the Boston Bruins in 2009 for winger Phil Kessel (34 goals, 37 assists in 2011-12) …
“We got a guy in his prime who has scored 30 goals for us twice and has a good shot at 40 for us this year. And it’s not just the points. Phil changes games. He’s been terrific through this [second-half]slump. I’m really proud of how Phil has played through this. He’s been a dynamite player for us.
“We look at the two transactions between us and Boston. We lump them together. I think if you look at the net to both deals they’d both do the deals again. They netted [using Toronto’s first-round pick]Tyler Seguin, who’s a really good young player, and [with the 2011 pick, defence prospect]Dougie Hamilton. [In the 2011 trade that sent Tomas Kaberle to Boston]we ended up with Joe Colborne, who we think will play next year, John-Michael Liles, who was the guy we traded [to the Colorado Avalanche]the second for, Phil Kessel and [with the 2011 first-round pick]defenceman Stuart Percy. We’re happy with our end of the trade.
“We never figured that that pick [Seguin]would be second overall. We thought we were improving. But we talked about that. As a general manager that is something you had better consider. We said, ‘What if this is Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin?’ And we said, ‘We have a chance to add Phil Kessel.’ And I believe on a championship team you need star players. That’s an important piece for us. People talk as if Tyler Seguin is dramatically younger than Phil. I think he’s three years younger. [Seguin is 20, Kessel is 24.]/p>
“So it’s one of those things where we didn’t count on it being second overall, but we contemplated that, we discussed it, and we said no, you get a chance to add a Phil Kessel very, very rarely in your career. And we took that chance and we’re glad he’s here.”