Burke: "We're Done For Now"
Wednesday, 07.6.2011 / 12:09 PM ET / News
The Canadian Press
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TORONTO -- Brian Burke has no interest in bending any rules to make the Toronto Maple Leafs better.
Burke believes the Leafs missed out on Brad Richards in free agency because they were unwilling to front-load the contract. The New York Rangers lured the centre to Manhattan on a deal that pays him US$24 million in the first two years and $36 million over the remaining seven.
The last three years of the contract pay just $1 million each.
``We made a very substantial offer to Brad Richards,'' Burke said Wednesday at the Leafs prospect camp. ``What we offered I don't think is material. We lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes for two reasons - one, we didn't offer as much money as other teams and more importantly we didn't structure the contract like other teams did.
``These deals that are front-end loaded and have small amounts on the back end in my opinion are designed to circumvent the salary cap. I won't do them, I never have, I'm not going to.''
The Leafs are believed to have offered Richards a $42-million, six-year deal.
A number of players have received long-term, front-loaded deals in recent years. Without specifically identifying anyone in particular, Burke says he doesn't think those guys intend to play out the final years of their contracts for little money.
``Those contracts are accepted by the league on the basis that the player's going to serve the full term,'' he said. ``That's the only basis they're accepted by the league. If there's any understanding that the player's not going to serve the full term they wouldn't be accepted by the league.
``I personally do not believe these players are going to serve the term of their contracts.''
Burke also indicated he was unwilling to extend an offer sheet to restricted free agents Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty.
Even still, the Leafs GM says he's confident the team has improved with the moves its made. The team signed centre Tim Connolly to a $9.5-million, two-year deal and acquired centre Matthew Lombardi and defenceman Cody Franson from Nashville for Brett Lebda, a prospect and a draft pick.
``For now we're done,'' said Burke. ``We'll see what happens. If we get a chance to upgrade we'll do it.''