Burke turns the pressure on

Tim Wharnsby

Brian Burke cut through the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room at the Air Canada Centre the other day to discover a crowded workout room.The Leafs general manager was pleasantly surprised to see his players using the new computerized equipment set up by fitness gurus who work with cyclist Lance Armstrong and now are helping the Leafs. So he queried a member of the training staff as to how many players would have been seen in the gym last summer. The answer was just five.

Burke obviously likes the cultural change. The Leafs GM remarked that he has witnessed two major alterations since he took over the struggling NHL franchise last November. There has been a shift in the players’ way of thinking and there is now a lack of job security, a development that Burke hopes will produce better results.

“There are 28 guys in the weight room for a reason,” Burke said yesterday as the three-day United States Olympic men’s orientation camp concluded.

“The guy who wasn’t there last summer is thinking that maybe they don’t have a job and they know they have to prepare better. Last year, everyone came to camp, and the question was, who am I going to play with? Now the question is, am I going to play?”

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