Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke met with the media today to discuss why he recalled prospects Nazem Kadri and Keith Aulie from the minors with his team on a seven-game losing streak. Here are the highlights from his comments (with full audio below):
"We liked the way both players have been playing. We were determined to shuffle the deck a little bit today and I said to Claude [Loiselle] you've got to tell me who the two best guys are. From our perspective, it's these two players.
On lack of patience with Kadri:
"I think in an ideal world, if we would have won a few of the last games, we probably would have given him a little bit longer but he has made the adjustments we've asked him to, he's cut down his turnovers. He's drawing penalties almost every night by getting hauled down. He's been responsible and he's been good offensively so he's made a lot of the transformations that we needed him to make. In an ideal world, maybe another couple weeks, maybe three weeks, but it's not an ideal world. We're scuffling here."
On his team's play right now:
"My view on this group is I still believe in this group. The same group went 4-0 and then has scuffled recently. I believe in the group. I believe we put together a character group of people who can get the job done. But that doesn't mean we're not going to utilize the asset we have in the organization when we can. I think these are the guys that are doing the job best down there and that's why they're here."
On Kadri's improvements in the minors:
"All of the things that I asked Nazem to do when we sent him down, he's done. Maybe he hasn't perfected them, but he's improved dramatically ... We're going to see what he can do."
Is it not too much pressure for Kadri?
"I think we're stuck with that if he comes up in two weeks or three weeks. I think that's part of being a Toronto Maple Leaf.
"This is a focal point and these games attract a great deal of attention and he's going to have to deal with that, whether it's today or two weeks from now. We think he's seen a lot of that as far as the media attention. We're not looking for him to be a saviour; we're looking for him to give us a spark."
Is Ron Wilson's job in danger?
What are your expectations for Kadri?
"I told him, you're not a saviour here. We brought you in to give us a spark and don't carry the weight of the world. The group has to turn this around -- 20 players have to fix this, not one player or two players. And I told Nazem and Keith Aulie the same thing. That they're not saviours, just play your game."
On Burke's responsibility for where team is:
"If you want to take the bows when the team is winning, then you better take the heat when it's not winning. It is ultimately my responsibility. I drive the bus, I decide who gets on the bus, I decide who gets off the bus. If the bus is stuck in the ditch, then ultimately that's my responsibility.
"But this isn't my first rodeo. This isn't the first time I've had a team struggle. I've had tough times before and I'm not panicking.
"Someone asked me a couple weeks ago, would you give yourself a high grade from the job you've done, I said how could you do that, the team finished 29th. So no. I think in time people will see the thought that right now's an complete, that we'll plug in significant pieces that will be part of the solution here. But when we're struggling, we're struggling. It would be pretty foolish of me to say I'm doing a great job. That being said, I do believe in the people I've brought in, I do believe in the people I've kept and I think this group can sort it out."