Pre Season NHL Shocker: Leafs Fire Brian Burke as GM!

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Updated: January 9, 2013
Brian Burke

In a shocking move the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired GM Brian Burke, this according to Bob McKenzie at TSN.

After missing the playoffs in all four years of his tenure, some might call this normal procedure, however the fact remains that it is 8 months after the last season ended and Burke was given a vote of confidence by ownership and the board at MLSE.   This new move is a shocking development, and really surprising considering we are just days away from a new season starting.

This is a guy who the team who the team allowed to hire a new coach late last season.  Run free agency and trades during the deadline and the summer months, and basically have the team prepared to start hockey once the lockout was over.  Then fired him days before training camp is set to open.  The timing of all of this just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Why not bring in your new GM late last season, or early this year?  Why wait 8 months from the end of last year?  Why now on the eve of training camp when not many moves could be made?  Why allow Burke to exercise the 5th overall pick in the draft?  None of it makes any sense.

We are still awaiting word as to who the new GM will be. Will it be an interim position? Do Dave Nonis and Randy Carlyle and the rest of the Leafs staff survive? What becomes of Burkie’s Hot Dogs?

UPDATE:  Dave Nonis is the new GM of the Leafs, it is unclear if this is an interim, or permanent position.  Fans will recall the Nonis replaced a fired Burke in Vancouver, and soon made a 6 player trade that featured Todd Bertuzzi and others going to Florida for a package including Roberto Luongo.

Further Update: Brian Burke will be staying with the Leafs as a Senior Advisor.

Perhaps MLSE’s new owners (Rogers and Bell) forced this move? Or Larry Tanenbaum taking over from Richard Peddie? Or Ownership nixed a Roberto Luongo trade? Or someone finally realized how much the Leafs gave up to get Phil Kessel, or to sign Mike Komisarek in Free Agency? Perhaps they realized that Tyler Bozak is going on his third season as the Leafs number 1 centre? or that James Reimer is still the Leafs #1 goalie? Maybe Dion Phaneuf turning the volume to 11 isn’t good leadership? What prompted this move and where the Leafs go from here will be the source of weeks and months of speculation.

It should of course be noted that the Leafs record under Burke after taking over on Nov. 29, 2008 was 117-126-38. And the only winning season was in 2010-11 with a record of 37-34-11. His 2011-12 edition of the Leafs was worse than the 2010-11 edition.

Or Maybe MLSE finally saw this video.

As a Habs fan, I can only hope that the Leafs will hire someone who is a bigger loudmouth as their next GM? Perhaps Pierre McGuire; or I guess we can go back to John Ferguson Jr.

The cancelling of Winter Classic and HBO 24/7 sucks now. I would have loved to see all the Behind the Scenes Burke stuff.

Stay tuned to LWOS as I’ll update when I know more.

Main Photo credit: Tsar Kasim via photopin cc

Thanks to Tsar, I had to look long and hard for a shot with Burke having his tie done up. They aren’t easy to find.  Maybe what I will miss most about Burkie is seeing shots of him in the press box disheveled, exasperated, sweaty, and with his tie undone.  Those are my favorite Burke moments.

Feel free to follow me on twitter @lastwordBkerr and be sure to join Max Vasilyev and I on Wednesday Nights at 10:00pm when we host the hockey radio show, “Puckheads”, on the Last Word Radio Network.  You can listen in live or to our past podcasts by clicking here, or by searching for us on iTunes.

3 Comments

  1. Maksim Vasilyev

    January 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Mind blown.

  2. B.B. Hockey

    January 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    The fact that he was fired at all is not that shocking given his record with the club and the fact that the Leafs are under new ownership. What is shocking, as you mention, is the timing of firing and also that Nonis and Carlyle are still employed. If new ownership did not like the direction the Leafs were going in why keep two of the three key management pieces in tact? This is certainly not a shot at Nonis but he has been following Burke around and if a change of direction was needed maybe all three should have been shown the door (at the end of last season).

    The bigger potential concern for Leaf fans should be what was the reasoning behind the move. Burke is loud and will tell you what he is thinking and sticks to his guns so to speak. If ownership fired him because of this, or because Burke was not a puppet to ownership then as a Leaf’s fan I would be worried about the direction the club might be taking. You just have to look to the Islanders to see what happens when owners put puppets into the GM position.

    All of this said, I wont cry for Burke, his record certainly did not speak to the promise he brought to ownership and fans 4 seasons ago,the performance on the ice was no better than when John Ferguson Jr. was in charge, and most importantly, Burke will not be unemployed for long (after his senior advisor role is up). Heck, Bettman appologized the other day and has held his position for a long time, should he retire I would not be shocked to see Burke make some type of move for the role.

    • Ben Kerr

      January 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      I thought he should have been fired after 4 years of failing to make the playoffs. That said, once he was allowed to run the draft, make the Schenn/JVR trade, do offseason signings, etc… he should have been allowed to play out at least the start of the season.

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