In the early morning hours on Sunday, Burke broke out the crosses. From Calgary he acquired Dion Phaneuf, Freddie Sjostrom and 6-6 defense prospect Keith Aulie in exchange for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers.
In the equally intriguing undercard, the Maple Leafs were finalizing a deal to acquire goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere from Anaheim for forward Jason Blake and goalie Vesa Toskala.
Give credit to Burke for doing something, even if it's difficult to tell exactly what he's trying to do.
Although Dion Phaneuf may not be as good as most of his press clippings, he is still the best player in the grand swap with Calgary. Phaneuf lost his way and his edge over the last year in Calgary and will be under tremendous pressure to be a bone-rattling, goal-scoring defenseman again. In Toronto, Phaneuf will get to be The Man. Let's see if he handles the assignment like a man.
Stajan and Hagman are second- or third-line players on a good team like the Flames. White is a very good, heart-and-soul, third-pair defenseman on a contender while Mayers is a fine role player who had little value. If Calgary GM Darryl Sutter made this deal to rid the Flames of Phaneuf and his big contract as much as give a jolt to his sagging team, he could not have brought back a better haul. Calgary, on an 0-6-3 skid before a win over last-place Edmonton on Saturday, is a better team today.
I just don't know how Sunday's beautiful madness makes the Maple Leafs a better team today or next year. I suspect Burke is not done. Neither deal is harsh on Toronto's salary cap. While this year's squad may miss the playoffs, these moves may not be fairly judged until this time next year.
Instead of trading this year's first round pick -- which may end up in the top-five -- and two additional high picks to Boston for Phil Kessel, followed by today's moves, Burke may have been better off taking a season-long vacation. He could have let his team "descend rapidly," picked up a blue-chip prospect with a top pick in the draft and used the money he is spending on Kessel and Phaneuf on young, star free agents like Ilya Kovalchuk. He could have held on to the few players from the reign of John Ferguson Jr. that he likes.
But that's not Burke's style.
Two nations' worth of hockey fans, savoring every second of every rumor and trade, love him for it. Will Maple Leafs Nation? It's just too early to tell.