Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Brian Burke, was fired on Wednesday. The firing comes just a few days after the NHL lockout ended and a few days before the new season was about to begin.
Burke was entering the 5th year of his 6-year, $18 million contract and he will reportedly be replaced by the Leafs assistant GM, Dave Nonis. Whether or not Nonis will be named the permanent GM remains to be seen, for now all I’ve read is that he’ll serve as the team’s GM on an interim basis.
Nonis was a GM once before for the Vancouver Canucks GM (where he actually replaced Burke) and had an above average record of 130-91-25 as GM of the Canucks. Nonis was informed of the Maple Leafs decision Wednesday morning and he reportedly spoke with Burke shortly after, “I had a brief conversation with Brian,” said Nonis, “and we go back a long ways. He’s always helped me as much as he can.”
The move comes as a shock to many, myself for one am surprised by Burke’s sudden firing and the timing of it. Even some Leafs players were shocked by the firing. Leafs forward, Joffrey Lupul spoke with the Toronto Star and said he was “completely shocked by the sudden and unexpected news.” Lupul went on to say, “Why did this happen? Well, we haven’t made the playoffs in seven years, but I can tell you, all the players feel responsible for this because we didn’t get the job done on the ice.”
Burke compiled an unimpressive record of 128-135-42 during his time with the Maple Leafs. Burke’s biggest accomplishment was winning a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, the following year he became GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Which was awesome because he allowed my Boston Bruins to acquire draft picks that would turn into Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Knight in exchange for star forward Phil Kessel. Burke however got the Bruins back when he dumped Tomas “the cone” Kaberle on them and got Joe Colborne in return, along with a pick that would eventually turn into Tyler Biggs (could’ve been goaltender John Gibson).
Did you know Brian Burke was the first American-born GM in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Pretty cool little factoid if not completely useless information
Before the NHL went into lockout mode and I started rambling about trades, Burke had recently acquired underperforming forward James Van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for underperforming defenseman Luke Schenn. I’m curious to see how this move works out for both sides and think it may be a win for the Leafs.
However you feel about Burke’s deals and his tenure as Leafs GM, I’ve found I can’t decide if his firing is coming too late for the Leafs, or too soon. Time will tell I guess, one thing I know for sure is that Brian Burke probably won’t be out of work for very long.