burke_headshot_121608The Boston Bruins obviously have bigger fish to fry the next couple weeks in the regular season and then during, what they hope will be, their lengthy playoff run.

But it doesn’t hurt to take a look ahead to next year a bit and wonder what the Northeast Division will look like. And one club that will probably be more of a factor is Toronto — at least if general manager Brian Burke has his way.

The Leafs were mathematically eliminated — a foregone conclusion for months now — the other night when Montreal won its game. But despite the inevitability of it, Burke was still upset.

“Today is a sombre day,” he told reporters, including Paul Hunter of The Star. “This is a day that represents failure. I’m not happy.

“Any day you have to stand in front of the media and talk about not qualifying for the playoffs should be a kick right in the groin to everyone in the organization.”

MK: It might not be next year, but you have to imagine the Leafs will return to their glory days by the 2010-11 season if Burke is allowed to work his magic (and not hampered by ownership). He’s promising to bury bad contracts in the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go the offer-sheet route with a restricted free agent this summer either.

Elsewhere in the division:

•If Buffalo fails to make the playoffs by one point, last night’s loss will forever be known as “Vanek’s Gaffe.”

Chris Higgins is finally finding his stride for Montreal.