Brian Burke is ready to start the 2011-12 NHL season and believes his club is on the right path towards making the playoffs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' president and general manager spent an hour taking questions and fan calls on Toronto's CP24 on Tuesday, where he discussed the team's seven-year playoff drought, head coach Ron Wilson's future and waived forward Sean Avery among a host of topics.
"We are well on our way towards fixing this," Burke said of his team that hasn't made the playoffs since the lockout.
Burke, whose club hosts the Montreal Canadiens in their season opener on Thursday, pointed to the additions of John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson on the blue line and Tim Connolly up front as reasons why the club would be better this year.
"We thought hard about a lot of different things and we're happy with the moves we made," Burke said.
While Burke has faith in his squad, he also made it clear that if the Leafs struggle early that changes will be made. "We believe in these kids but I'm not very patient if we stumble," he said.
On the coaching front, Burke was asked about Wilson, who has not made the playoffs with the club in the three seasons he's coached in Toronto and only has one year remaining on his contract.
He reiterated that he was a big supporter of Wilson and left room open for discussion of an extension. "If we have a good start we can go to him and extend his contract," Burke explained. "I'm not planning on making a coaching change and I'm not planning on having to make a coaching change."
Burke also made it clear that if the team does struggle out of the gate, he would prefer to make a roster shakeup instead of a coaching change - especially in the middle of the year when the coaching candidate pool isn't as deep.
The Leafs GM was also asked about possible interest in forward Sean Avery, who was placed on waivers on Tuesday
"I don't see a fit with this player on our team at this time," Burke said flatly.
To close out the show, Burke ended his hour-long interview with a message to Leaf fans.
"We have the greatest fans in the NHL, we have the greatest fans in pro sports, we have the most loyal fans," Burke said. "We have to give them something to cheer for, we have to reward that loyalty.
"I think what you saw from the group last year is what you're going to see this year."