Both endeavors are going well. The U.S. won the silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics, and Burke likes the path Toronto is on after his mid-season deals. He pointed out Saturday that from the end of January on, the Leafs' record would have put them in a playoff spot.
"But that doesn't do the fans much good, unless the season starts on January 31," Burke told FanHouse on Saturday morning. "Our goal is the playoffs. We think we can do that. We thought we could do that last year until our goaltending fell apart."
Burke has addressed that. Goaltending is now an area of depth, and even after signing Jonas Gustavsson to a two-year extension recently, Burke signed Finnish goalie Jussi Rynnas and former Hobey Baker finalist Ben Scrivens.
Other issues to address: Burke needs a top six forward. He's happy with the group of centers and he said he believes Nazem Kadri, the seventh overall pick last year, can crack the lineup. Kadri is on the small side, but Burke said, "He's kind of a junkyard dog -- he's a mean little guy. He plays bigger than he is."
So Burke will look for some size to add to the third or fourth lines. Also on his shopping list: a first-round pick in the draft, since Toronto's first- and second-rounders went to Boston in the Phil Kessel deal.
How will Burke find a No. 1 pick and also a top six forward? Well, the forward potentially could come through free agency; as Burke noted, no team personnel assets are required for a signing. But to get a high pick, or perhaps a forward and a No. 1 at the same time, will require a significant deal.
Speculation in Toronto revolves around defenseman Tomas Kaberle. It's not unthinkable that Burke would move him – that's an area of strength for the Leafs, and Burke has gone so far as to talk to Kaberle about the possibility.
"We're going to listen on Kaberle," Burke said. "He's a good guy, he's a good player, he wants to be here, but I told Tomas we need to listen if the right deal comes along. If not, we're very happy to keep him."
Another unresolved issue in Toronto: the captaincy. The smart money is on one of those new acquisitions, Dion Phaneuf, but Burke said the decision is entirely head coach Ron Wilson's. "If he decides to name Dion, I would support that," Burke said.
First, it's off to Germany. Burke is devoted to Team USA; he credits the organization with teaching him the sport, getting him a college scholarship and starting off his career in pro hockey, and he said that his involvement with the team also benefits the Maple Leafs. That might sound strange -- Team USA helps a Canadian NHL team -- but Burke said he now has much more detailed knowledge of other clubs' players, which will help when it comes to trades and free-agent acquisitions.
He is very proud of U.S. Olympian Joe Pavelski, who has shot into prominence during the Sharks' postseason.
"Little Joe was really good for us in Vancouver," Burke said. "Some players use the Olympics as a springboard, and Pavelski and Tim Gleason both did that. Some guys get into the spotlight and stay there, and Little Joe has really done that, he's the one I'm most excited about."
So who will jump out in the future? Burke names forwards Kyle Okposo of the Islanders and T.J. Oshie of the Blues as two who really made big strides last year. "They came over as green kids, they figured out the big ice and they played really well," he said.
"People all the time remind me that 1967 was the last time we won the Cup," Burke said. "I was 12. I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with the failings since thing, until the last year and a half.
"But we have the best fans in the world. Everywhere we go, there are people in blue. It's just a phenomenal support base. We have got to reward these people with some success."