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Clarke: Burke right for Leafs but can't get bigger than team

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TSN.ca Staff
11/26/2008 6:18:22 PM
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Philadelphia Flyers senior vice president and NHL legend Bob Clarke joined Michael Landsberg Wednesday on TSN's Off The Record and shared his thoughts on the Brian Burke/Toronto Maple Leafs' situation.

Clarke had words of praise for Burke, admitting he was a fan of his work as a general manager.

While Clarke did say he thought Burke would do a good job for the Maple Leafs, he expressed some concerns.

"I do think that he [Burke] and Ron Wilson will have to be careful that they don't get bigger than the team," said Clarke. "I think we've seen it happen here before, maybe not identified but all of a sudden, the coach or the manager or either one or both are always in the paper, always ahead of the players and when that happens, the players don't end up liking that very much.

"I don't think it'll be a problem, I think [Burke] is way too smart but Ron Wilson has started already, his ego is pretty big right now and if it gets bigger than the team's, then you are going to have a problem," Clarke told Landsberg.

When asked if he thought Burke would be allowed to run the Maple Leafs without upper management interfering, Clarke said he guessed the former Anaheim Ducks' general manager would have sorted all those details out.

Landsberg brought up the Flyers remarkable turnaround, finishing last in the NHL in 2006-07 (22-48-6-6, 56 points) and then making a playoff run in 2007-08 (42-29-5-6, 95 points). The OTR host asked if the Maple Leafs would have the same type of success. Clarke responded by saying, "Do they have [Jeff] Carter and [Mike] Richards?"

"The Flyers had a bad year, but they had good players to build around," explained Clarke.

"What I believe [Burke] will do first and foremost is get the team a personality and my guess is he'll increase the size and they'll be hard to play against. I don't think they're there yet but I think [Burke] will get them there," said the Hall of Famer.

Landsberg also brought up the subject of head shots and the Colby Armstrong hit on Jason Blake from the game between the Atlanta Thrashers and Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

"I think the problem with that type of hit is he made no attempt to try and get the puck," Clarke told Landsberg. "If Armstrong was trying to get the puck, he still would have been able to hit [Blake] but it wouldn't have been nearly as devastating. He hit him hard enough to hurt him."

Clarke told Landsberg he would love to see head shots eliminated.

"There were no head injuries when I played. Guys lost their eyes and stuff and it was a serious game, but there were no head injuries,"  said Clarke.

"My belief is that when you go to get somebody, you try and get the puck. If you are trying to get the puck and taking your body, that means I'm going to hit you with my rear end, my hip, my shoulder down low. If I come in and raise my hands up and drill you across the shoulder, your head is going into the boards or the glass and that's what happening now," said Clarke.

Off The Record airs weekdays on TSN at 6pm et/3pm pt.

Bob Clarke (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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