Brian Burke says Auston Matthews isn't exciting and 'ain't selling tickets'

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Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews is a player who’s pretty hard to describe as not exciting. (NBC)
Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews is a player who’s pretty hard to describe as not exciting. (NBC)

Whether the Toronto Maple Leafs win or lose, the constant discussion about their salary cap situation is never ending.

Even with Auston Matthews and William Nylander locked up, there’s still Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson to consider. Of course, Marner is number one with a bullet as he continues to have a remarkable season as the team’s top offensive force.

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Before Matthews signed the assumption tended to be that his yearly salary would be well above Marner’s. However, considering the fact he didn’t maximize his earnings in order to hit free agency sooner and Marner has taken a step forward, that feels like less of a given.

There is certainly an intelligent conversation to be had about what Marner should earn relative to Matthews, but when Brian Burke joined PTS on the Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Thursday that’s not the conversation he opted to have. After briefly acknowledging Marner’s team-leading points total (a somewhat misleading statistic to begin with as Matthews has 14 games missed), he said this about Marner (at approximately 143:48 here):

He’s their most exciting player. I love Auston Matthews, but he ain’t selling tickets. He ain’t exciting. Mitch Marner’s exciting.

In a short sentence there’s just so much that doesn’t make sense, even if you buy the premise that Marner is more exciting than Matthews, which is far from outrageous. Here are a couple of examples:

  • How exciting players are is not a great rubric for how much they should be paid. John Tavares probably isn’t the most exciting player on the Maple Leafs, but he has the biggest total contract, and deserves it. Maple Leafs fans are often very anti-Jake Gardiner, but there’s no doubt he’s exciting.

  • Matthews is exciting. Although that’s impossible to state as objective truth, it’s pretty damn close to undeniable. He’s one of the most gifted goal scorers to enter the league in recent memory. The majority of NHL franchises would kill for a 21-year-old goal sniper who brings the kind of excitement Matthews does every game. Although some of his pure shooting goals aren’t highlight reel gems, he did this less than a week ago:

3. The Maple Leafs, especially when they are competing, don’t have issues selling tickets, and that’s not really one player’s job anyway. If Marner ended up leaving there’s a zero percent chance it would lead to a massive decline in ticket sales.

Burke is always going to trade on hot takes to some degree, but this one is not going to go down as one of his best.

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