Well ho-ly smokes. It’s official, from Bob McKenzie:
Toronto Maple Leafs have apparently fired Brian Burke as general manager. Working on official confirmations.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 9, 2013
When Brian Burke took the reins from Cliff Fletcher and John Ferguson Jr, the Leafs were in shambles. But Burke had a proven track record, haven built the Anaheim Ducks into Stanley Cup champions, and was hailed as somewhat of a savior for the Leafs. He liked bigger teams, wanted top-end talent, and wanted the Maple Leafs to be as good as they were famous.
As some have claimed with Obama’s first term, however, it takes some time to right a whole bunch of wrongs. He made some great trades, picking up Dion Phaneuf for a handful of spare parts. He turned some (high) draft picks into Phil Kessel, maybe not the best big picture idea, but at least he got a proven scorer. He turned what appears to be a disappointing Luke Schenn into James Van Riemsdyk. He got Joffrey Lupul (and Jake Gardiner) for a fair shake.
…But on the other side, he’s made some r-u-f RUF free agent signings, from Mike Komisarek to Colby Armstrong to Tim Connolly and beyond.
Needless to say, the ship hasn’t been righted since he’s taken over, finishing 24th, 29th, 22nd, and 26th, and the Leafs’ brass has had enough.
The timing, from where I sit, is flat odd. The season starts in a hot three days, and the puck drops on the year a mere 10 from now. It’s pretty clear that Assistant GM Dave Nonis will be taking over in the interim (though note that that’s entirely speculation for now), and who knows, possibly long-term. I’m a fan of Burke. This whole thing is bumming me out a bit.
I just don’t think they gave him enough time for this to play out. The fact that it seems out of the blue makes you wonder: did something happen behind the scenes, a moment, a blow-up, an argument? Were the brass pissed that the new CBA bailed out the GMs who took wild chances, while Burke refused to take those shots?
Guess what? I literally have no idea.
What we do know, for now, is that with Brian Burke out of work, we have the perfect destination idea for him here at theScore. Don Cherry’s seat. Get that man on there. I’d love to hear him speak freely.
Timing of Burke dismissal very odd. He and all brass were at Marlies game last night in Hamilton. Truth will surface. Something fishy.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 9, 2013