Peddie's cheapness caused some of Burke's mess

You can trace the origins of the sad demise of the Maple Leafs back to a single decision that then-CEO Richard Peddie made on Aug. 23, 2003.

A decision that, more than anything else, has been responsible for the lack of playoff games in Toronto since the season lost to lockout. A decision that cost Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the company Peddie is so often credited with building, somewhere between $60- and $100-million in lost playoff revenue alone.

Peddie went on the cheap and hired John Ferguson Jr. as general manager and he got even less than he paid for. The baton was passed from the fired Ferguson to the caretaker Cliff Fletcher, to an impatient and overpaid Brian Burke. Peddie paid too little for Ferguson, too much for Burke, who has spent the past three-plus seasons ridding himself of those who used to play here.

Burke has failed just as Ferguson, for completely different reasons, in completely different ways, failed. But if you go back to the beginning, so much of Burke’s early work was undoing the mess Ferguson had made.

That’s not giving him a free pass in any way. He has made his share of errors. But when you look back, big picture, the single determination made by Peddie in 2003 remains significant almost a decade after the disastrous decision.


Should Brian Burke be fired? No. Should he be forced to explain where he is and where he is going to the new ownership of the Maple Leafs, absolutely. And if they don’t like the answers, then they can act accordingly … Funny, when the Bell and Rogers people had that gushing press conference to announce their partnership of the Leafs, Raptors et al, I remember them talking championships.