Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: brian burke
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
There is nothing more hysterical than the wailing of Calgary president Brian Burke over the handling and outcome of Dennis Wideman’s appeal to Gary Bettman following a process that, as designed and negotiated by the league owners through the legal muscle of lockouts (plural), is heavily weighted toward the league.
“Rubber-stamped,” the fuming executive categorized the decision in a radio interview after the commissioner upheld the NHL’s original 20-game sentence to the defenseman for plowing over and cross-checking linesman Don Henderson.
No doubt Burke also was shocked to discover the gambling at Rick’s Café.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Brian Burke has held many titles in a lifetime of hockey - player, agent, general manager, league executive/disciplinarian and president of hockey operations.
Now, apparently, he would like add another.
The president of the Calgary Flames is on a mission - some would describe it as a difficult if not impossible uphill battle - to make ice surfaces bigger in the NHL.
"I've felt this way for a long time," the 59-year-old Burke said this week. "When I was GM of the [Vancouver] Canucks, I felt the ice was too congested for the size and skill we had on our team. I thought the size of the ice surface affected my team's ability to excel. That's where it started for me."
Self-interest may have sparked Burke's initial look into bigger ice. Now, though, the quest is, as he sees it, much more altruistic.
"It would," Burke said, "be good for the game of hockey."
from the Calgary Flames,
Hey Brian, lifelong Flames fan here. Just wondering how you find the Calgary media as opposed to the Toronto media?
I’d say the two biggest differences are the Toronto media, they’re like Lemmings – there’s masses of them everywhere.
Everywhere where you turn there’s someone there with a recording device. The players are forced to deal with a huge quantity that gets tiresome, frankly. There will be 100 media in the room after a game and here there might be 40 and in Anaheim there might be 20 or 15. The number one thing is the volume, there’s a crush of them everywhere. Number two is, of course, in a 5-million market compared to a 1.2-million or whatever we are. The social media component is huge. If a player stops at a bar to have one beer, someone’s going to tweet that he had four. Or if he’s talking to a woman. Social media, if you add that to the media thing, is a crushing burden. Second is the attitude. I’ve said this before so this isn’t a revelation, I think in Toronto they breed on the misery of the team. When the team does poorly then love it and love to pick up rocks and throw them.
I think here the media have been fair. I think they’d like us to do well but they’re not cheerleaders and I think they’ve been fair.
more Q & A for Brian Burke...
“I think we need to do a better job of tapping the hockey market in North America that has Irish ancestry. There are some pretty prominent hockey people from Irish families – their parents or grandparents were right off the boat. There have been a couple of players, like Owen Nolan from Belfast, who were born here. So that’s the number one thing. We haven’t really tapped that group for fundraising ability or interest so we’ve got to do a better job on our side of the water and the investors, the buildings – they’re things we’re working on in the gestation period.”
-Brian Burke, President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames. Burke was recently in Ireland to promote the game and Eoin O’Callaghan of Yahoo has more from and on Burke.
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons questions whether the Blackhawks are a classic sports dynasty, he discusses the Leafs' desire to essentially salvage the players who haven't been completely poisoned by the concept of playing hockey in Toronto (Phil Kessel is not one of those players in Simmons' eyes), and he offers the following words of warning:
When Glen Sather was talking trade with Montreal in the deal that eventually sent Scott Gomez to the Canadiens, his assistant Jeff Gorton, was clear about New York’s needs: Make sure, he told Sather, that Ryan McDonagh is included in the transaction.
Sather had heard the name McDonagh, but had never seen him play. He listened to his assistant and moved accordingly.
When Brian Burke was talking trade with the Blue Jackets in a deal that sent Sergei Fedorov to Columbus, his assistant Bob Murray had a word of advice. “Don’t make the trade without Francois Beauchemin.”
Burke’s response: “Who the hell is Francois Beauchemin?”
He made the trade and Columbus included Beauchemin in the deal.
Why does this matter now? It matters as the Maple Leafs get ready to remake their roster. They don’t have a general manager. They don’t have a pro scout of any reputation. They may have capable junior hockey operators: But they don’t have people who know the NHL and the AHL and all levels of hockey inside and out.
When the time comes to make a deal next week and they need a [Jeff] Gorton or a [Tim] Murray whispering in a general manager’s ear, who will do the whispering? They don’t have a GM and they don’t have a Gorton or a Murray type. Of all that Brendan Shanahan has done, his lack of NHL experience and pro scouting acumen may come back to haunt him.
from Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post,
Burke, now president of hockey operations with the Calgary Flames, spent parts of five years as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs before he was fired last year. The Leafs dominate the headlines like no other team in Toronto, and their relationship with the media became a talking point after a blowout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, when winger Phil Kessel told a reporter seeking comment: “Get away from me.”
“Look, it’s a different experience in Calgary than it was here in Toronto,” Burke said on Tuesday. “You have 100 outlets covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. So if they have a game like they had in Buffalo the other night, where they didn’t play particularly well, now those 100 people have to single out a target.
“So 20 of them go after the (general manager), 30 of them go after the coach, 30 of them go after the captain, and the rest go after Phil Kessel because he refused to talk to the media after.”
Burke was the executive who acquired Kessel’s rights for the Leafs, a highly scrutinized trade that sent two first-round draft picks (and a second-round pick) to the Boston Bruins in 2009. Kessel has been notoriously hesitant to speak with the media since he arrived.
“Why should Phil Kessel have to talk to these pukes every day?” Burke asked the room.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
If there’s one thing you can be sure of when Brian Burke comes to town, it’s that you don’t want to miss him.
Burke, now the president of the Calgary Flames, co-hosted the PrimeTime Sports Management Conference on Monday, what’s become a can’t-miss media event tied into the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies....
But it was really the Burke show.
Just as when he was president and general manager of the Maple Leafs, Burke appears to say the first thing that pops into his head, followed quickly by the second thing. Sometimes those two things seem contradictory, but no matter, they are insightful, often memorable if not outright entertaining.
Take the fact Burke himself moderated the conference’s symposium on analytics in sports, with guest speakers like Kyle Dubas, the assistant general manager of the Maple Leafs, who is famed for his use of advanced statistics.
As it was pointed out by a few on Twitter, Burke running an analytics symposium is a lot like a Creationist moderating a conference on evolution.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
Burke, who’s been mostly silent since pledging to remain in the background as the chief hockey executive of the Calgary Flames, had no problem Thursday arguing the need for fighting in hockey as a purely practical matter.
Whichever end of the P.C. spectrum you may favour, what Burke said in a telephone interview from Toronto is pretty much undeniable.
“What cracks me up is, the disarmament treaty is all in the East,” he said. “I don’t understand it, because you get to the (L.A. Kings-New York Rangers) finals, and what is the one thing that leaped out at you? The Rangers were too small.
“In the West … I mean, we’re going into St. Louis tomorrow. Big, ugly team. You play Anaheim, they’ve always been big and ugly, now they’ve added Kesler, who’s not big and ugly but he’s a grumpy, hostile player. Then you go up to San Jose, they’re historically one of the biggest teams in the league … I said this in a speech the other night: size and toughness, they’re not optional in the West.”
The movement to eliminate fighting, Burke says, is coming from outside the game, not inside.
“The amount of fighting has been significantly reduced, that’s a good thing. We don’t have bench-clearing brawls, we don’t have three-hour games,” he said.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
“This is the first interview I’ve done, probably since the draft,” he says Tuesday afternoon, standing in a doorway on the dressing room level at the Saddledome. “Look — this (situation) works as long as the president of hockey operations doesn’t have a big ego. I want it clear to the fans: Brad (Treliving) is the GM here.”
Brian Burke’s next birthday will be his 60th, and his barber still charges by the acre. He is still one of the NHL’s prime interviews, even if Burke is out of practice.
It must be hard for a guy who used to hold court in the press box at Air Canada Centre to stay away from the cameras, no?
“I’ve never craved the spotlight,” Burke said. “It’s funny: Guys like you ask me for interviews, and then accuse me of wanting the spotlight. I never called anyone up and said, ‘Hey, let’s do an interview.’ But I gave colourful comments, and I think, thoughtful answers. But that was part of the job.
“I’m very happy to be in the background. The face of the franchise is, and should be, Brad.”
Brendan Shanahan and Brian Burke.
Oilers TV's Tom Gazzola caught the Florida Panthers' #1 overall pick meeting the press after exiting stage right:
Gary Bettman isn't kidding when he shakes the hand of every kid who shows up to the draft and takes the stage in the first round and says, "Welcome to the NHL."
In the 2nd through 7th rounds, picks are made at teams' draft tables, but the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle noted that Calgary Flames prospects will see something that might stick out a weeeeee little bit, as posted by the Score's Thomas Drance:
Welcome to the Flames, where truculence is mandatory and flow is optional.
from Aaron Vickers of CalgaryFlames.com,
He hasn’t always been the grizzled face on the draft floor.
Once upon a time, Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke was a fresh-faced rookie tasked with navigating his first National Hockey League draft day.
“My first draft was as assistant GM in Vancouver with Pat Quinn and Pat was in a difficulty with the League because he had coached LA, gone to Vancouver and they suspended him briefly so he wasn’t at the table,” Burke recounted. “It was my first draft and I’m running the draft. There were scouts there who have been doing it 20 years. I was 31 or 32. My previous experience was six years as a lawyer. I’d never been at a draft table before.
“We took Rob Murphy, who worked out pretty well. He played a fair amount for us and a fair amount for Ottawa. He still works for Ottawa. Great kid but I remember being terrified.
"You’re at the table with guys who have been doing this 30 years and you’re trying to say, ‘this is the type of player we want’ and they’re looking at you like, ‘hey, kid, you’re brand new at this. You’re American to boot so shut up and sit there’. It was intimidating.”
continue for Burke's draft history...
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
Burke was in rare Burke form at the fundraiser: Angry, charming, often hilarious, passionate about his fight against homosexual bullying, even suggesting at one point that, if he had the chance, he’d come back and work for the Leafs.
“I would take the job in Toronto again,” he said. “I had no regrets about working here. I loved it.”
As for the Toronto media, well, Burke didn’t actually bring the topic up. Someone asked for his thoughts and Burke, as he often does, held nothing back, suggesting at one point that 95% of the Toronto media are “conscientious, thorough guys.”
“The other 5%,” Burke added, “well, it’s a shame that we’re not allowed to kick the s--- out of them.”
Now, that quote has to be put in some context. Generally speaking, Burke was being funny. Indeed, he had the well-heeled crowd in the palm of his hand for most of the night with his often outrageous and caustic comments, particularly concerning the media. But there was a definite theme to his diatribes.
“It is a death of a thousand cuts,” said Burke when the subject of the Toronto media was raised during a Q&A. “And I loved working here. I thought I had the best job in hockey when I worked here. In Calgary, it’s not a whole lot better in terms of the media coverage. But you have 80% of the media that are ethical people that give a s---, want to get it right. The other 20% ruin it for everybody (he later jumped to the 95/5 formula).
"John Tortorella was on my staff for the Olympics in 2010. He's a good guy. I don't know what's going on in his head, but you know what? Shut your mouth and worry about your team. Leave my coach alone."
-Brian Burke of the Calgary Flames on Vancouver head coach John Tortorella.
Tortorella made a few comments about Bob Hartley last night and you can read all about in a piece from the CP at TSN.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Brian Burke excels at commanding a room. Especially when the Calgary Flames’ president of hockey operations is expounding on a topic of disagreement.
Burke is a traditionalist. Yet he also sits on the honorary executive board of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Those two concepts capture Burke’s skepticism and his desire for clarity.
On Friday at the Hynes Convention Center, Burke made his uncertainty of hockey analytics quite clear. But Burke reiterated that if a numbers-based solution arises, he will write a substantial check to claim its ownership.
“If someone comes up with this analysis — which I haven’t seen yet — that makes us better predictors, we’ll buy it,” said Burke during a panel entitled “Hockey Analytics: Out of the Ice Age.” “And we’ll make sure no one else can buy it. We’re all looking for that edge. But it hasn’t materialized, in my mind, yet in hockey as an analytics tool.”
continued plus more hockey topics...
"I am perplexed by this fine. I stand behind Bob Hartley completely in this regard, and remain confident that he acted properly in every aspect of this game."
“My guess is there will be a lot of compression between the Olympics and March 5 (trade-deadline day). It’s going to bunch up, and it will be a frantic time for all the teams. If you’re shedding and moving UFAs, you’re probably better off waiting, because it always compresses in that last week. My prediction, if we are moving UFAs, is that that time will be very stressful.”
-Brian Burke, president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames. More on Burke's trade plans from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
“I hate losing — that’s never going to change,” Burke told the Calgary Sun on Friday, ending nearly a month of silence.
“It’s not acceptable. We’re not getting the job done, and players know it’s not acceptable. The way it manifests itself is I don’t sleep. So I haven’t slept much.”
“But,” added Burke, the Flames president of hockey operations, “I’ve been through this before.”...
“The coaching staff isn’t going anywhere — I think they’re doing a fine job,” said Burke, sticking to his Dec. 12 promise made the day he fired GM Jay Feaster.
“We’re still having trouble scoring goals and keeping them out of our net. And we’re small. But there are two building blocks I see — that the work ethic matches or exceeds opponents’ and that we stay in the system.
“We’re doing both things. We can’t get to the next level without doing those two things first.”
“I heard they were talking about it on TSN. My first reaction, I thought my daughter was cute — she’s funny. But if my hair is a subject, it’s a slow news day. And second, the fact I now know it aggravates people, I’m probably not going to get it cut.”
-Brian Burke, Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations, on his hair. Read more from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald on the GM job process for the Flames.
Brian Burke, President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames, will hold a press conference scheduled for 1:00pm ET today.
Watch it below...
added 1:05pm, Burke says no further changes and the new GM search has started. He will act only as interm GM until a replacement is found.
added 1:27pm. Press conference is over.
Calgary’s Brian Burke joins the HC panel to discuss the Dion Phaneuf hit and other similar hits, saying it’s primarily the forward’s fault for turning the last second, and much more.
Watch the 21 minute video below from the BOG meetings...
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Minutes before zipping off for an Olympic conference call with USA Hockey officials, Brian Burke weighed in on the Canadian goaltending debate with a surprising stance.
“As of this week, I’d start Cam Ward,” said the Flames director of hockey operations, who doubles as the American Olympic team’s director of player personnel.
“He’s out of his mind right now — you can’t beat him,” Burke continued. “Everybody’s worried about Canada’s goalies right now, but I’m not. I think they have three guys who could play. You just have to figure out who’s on at that moment.”
As part of a wide-ranging chat with a quaint group of KidSport Calgary supporters Monday, Burke says that while he saw the Canadians as the pre-tourney favourites to win in Sochi “the team that scares the living hell out of me is Russia.”
“Because it’s their home soil, it’s going to be crazy there, and we hear rumours of huge bonuses for players if they win gold.”
Armed with a strong, colourful opinions on everything Burke raised plenty of eyebrows and prompted several laughs with frank answers to some of the biggest questions in hockey.
USA Today engaged in an intriguing exercise this morning, having Calgary Flames president Brian Burke pen a "guest column" in support of fighting, USA Hockey's Michael J. Stuart and the Mayo Clinic's David W. Dodick and Aynsley M. Smith pen a guest column aruging for the abolishment of fighting in hockey, and USA Today's Kevin Allen speaking with NBC Sports' Keith Jones, NHLPA special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider and one former Red Wings scrapper Darren McCarty about the fact that fighting's dropped by about 20% this season:
"There are fewer heavyweights now and fewer guys willing to fight, and it just seems like fighting isn't used as a deterrent the same way it was in the past," retired NHL tough guy Darren McCarty said.
A rule was introduced this season mandating visor use for all new players entering the NHL. Plus, players receive an additional penalty if they take their helmets off to fight. That rule was designed to protect players' heads if they fell during a fight.
"It's more inconvenient now, and I wonder if that has had an effect on it," said former NHL player Keith Jones, now an NBC analyst. "Now a little more thought process has to go into it, rather than the quick reaction."
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Burke is not above sending a message through the media and so, when asked what he’s learned thus far of Baertschi, he answered: “That I don’t know. That I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’ll tell you, I watched him in his draft year because we had a player, Brad Ross, that we’d drafted in Toronto. This kid is a gifted kid that left home at an early age to get to a better hockey level. All I’ve seen so far is flashes of brilliance. Flashes of brilliance are fine if you’re working in the university, but they’re not much good to people in an NHL building.
“There are three zones in the ice surfaces in this league. I don’t see that he’s learned to play and compete in two of them. He’s got to learn there’s a clock in this league and there’s so many minutes in the game and that you’ve got to compete through all of it. I see this is a guy who’s focusing on one area (scoring) and even then, sporadically.
“So I don’t know what we have. I’m not ready to quit on a young kid. I’m not ready to throw him under the bus here today and rip him, but I think you can tell from my comments that I see big holes and I see a lack of commitment that’s not going to get him anywhere in my books.”
It was vintage Brian Burke - all measured too, not angry, just stating the facts as he saw them. If doesn’t light under Baertschi, it is hard to know what will.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
As an executive, Burke is not known for his patience, which makes for an interesting marriage. The Flames essentially lost their two best players at the trade deadline – Iginla and defenceman Jay Bouwmeester – leaving them with perhaps the thinnest lineup in the league, although there is a chance goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff may be coming back after all, following a summer in which all indications were that he planned to retire.
No matter what they may say publicly, the Flames seem destined for a least a couple of years of cellar-dwelling – and really the big hope here for some time now is that two years from now, they bottom out and are rewarded with Connor McDavid, a generational prospect now playing for the Erie Otters of the OHL. For decades now, most of the generational prospects in the game have landed in the United States, but the Flames are so low on proven NHL players that – the draft lottery notwithstanding – they could be in the running for McDavid....
But Burke’s message is all about winning in the here-and-now as opposed to winning soon or winning some day. It will be an interesting marriage to be sure. Even as he promises to low-key it, there is a circus-like quality that Burke brings to any organization. He is outspoken on all matters and topics and recently wrote a back-page column in Sports Illustrated decrying Russia’s anti-gay legislation.
added 4:33pm, from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
What role Burke, only 58, and hardly playing out the string in hockey, will actually have in Calgary will play itself out. Knowing his personality, and how he likes to work (up early for a workout and to the office) I can’t see him not being heavily involved. All I know is, the Battle of Alberta needed a coat of fresh paint and Burke wields a broad, always entertaining brush.
Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames announced today that Brian Burke has been named President of Hockey Operations. Additionally, John Bean was appointed Chief Operating Officer for Calgary Sports & Entertainment Group.
Burke brings an impressive resume and reputation to the Flames organization in this newly created role, overseeing all hockey operations for the growing sports and entertainment group. His experience is vast ranging from his professional playing career to several executive positions both at the league and team level.
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Brian Burke to Calgary makes sense on many levels.
And yet makes no sense at all.
So all the unconfirmed reports Wednesday night that had the former Maple Leaf president and general manager joining the Flames in some undefined executive capacity as soon as this week certainly didn't come as a shocker, but at the same time, there's a great many unanswered questions.
At the top of the list would be the following; how, pray tell, is the notoriously independent and single-minded Burke going to work alongside Calgary president Ken King and GM Jay Feaster?
For this to really make sense, Flames principal owner Murray Edwards should be dumping King and Feaster and hiring Burke, who's strong work in rebuilding the Leafs is now becoming clearer, to run the whole operation.
That's how Burke does his best work. He's a take-charge kind of guy, an executive who charges in, tears things apart, brings in his own people and remakes the entire operation in his own image of what a hockey team and organization should look like.
via Tom Gulitti's recent timeline at Twitter,
Brian Burke told me today Russia's anti-gay propaganda law is "repugnant" and he won't be afraid to say that when he's in Sochi for Olympics
Burke cont: "...We’re here to win hockey games. Don’t worry about the politics. People like me will still speak about it.”
Burke: "People should remember these laws were enacted recently, so when Russia was awarded these games, these laws were not on the books."
read more from Burke at Gulitti's Twitter account...
added 3:52pm, More on this topic from Burke a few Team USA players on this topic by Corey Masisak of NHL.com.
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
While Burke opposes a full-on boycott of the Games, he told TSN on Friday that he plans to fulfill his Team USA duties while staging his own personal protest of the new law.
“People should make it known that this type of bias can’t take place,” Burke said. “But I think a boycott is misplaced. A boycott punishes the athletes. If we say we’re not going in the face of these laws, I think that punishes every Canadian, American, Argentinian athlete that’s prepared so hard for these Games. I don’t think it’s appropriate.
“The appropriate measure should be that as long as these laws are on the books, Russia should not be awarded another international competition. In the meantime, they’ve got to guarantee everybody’s safety.”
Burke added that the International Olympic Committee also needs “ironclad” assurances from the Russian government that athletes, staff and fans will be “not only free from harassment but free from any type of prosecution” under those laws.
“I think they’re going to get the assurances they need and make sure that it’s safe for everybody,” Burke said.
You can watch the short TSN segment with Burke here.
Brian Burke made an intriguing lateral move along the road back to running an NHL team in joining Rugby Canada's board of directors, and the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle found that Burke's desire to helm an NHL franchise remains strong, as does his...truculence...
“It doesn’t change my intention to get back at the GM level,” Burke said of his Rugby Canada role. “It doesn’t diminish that urge.”
As for further comparisons between his two favourite sports, Burke had plenty of more substantial ones, calling rugby “a warrior’s game” in which he had sustained most of his personal injuries.
“I think every long-term injury I have came from rugby, not from hockey,” he said, listing his various ailments and operations. “Shoulders and neck. I’ve had both shoulders done. Right knee twice.”
Burke also told the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran that he hopes to give rugby a professional footprint in Canada while working as something of an intern:
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Brian Burke, middle name Truculent, is thinking expansively these days. He is convinced he has seen the game’s future and it is slightly bigger — at least bigger than the standard NHL ice sheet that measures 200 feet long by 85 feet wide that has been around since water first froze.
The game and its players would be better served in the years ahead, the former Maple Leafs general manager believes, if new NHL buildings coming on line were designed with the capacity to accommodate an ice sheet up to 92 feet wide. That little bit more room between the sidewalls, he thinks, would add to the game’s flow and cut down on injuries, while at the same time preserve much of the body contact NHL fans crave.
“By and large, we’re still playing on the same-sized surface on which the 5-foot-9 Leo Boivin was deemed the feared hitter of his day,’’ said Burke, summoning the name of a former Boston defenseman of the 1950s and ’60s. “Our players are bigger and faster now, and if that changes, it’s only going to increase.
“A wider rink should allow for more playmaking, more scoring, better power plays . . . overall, a greater emphasis on skill, but still with plenty of hitting. No one wants to turn hockey into a non-contact sport.’’
continued plus additional hockey topics...
from Matt Kieltyka of MetroNews,
The former Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager’s lawyers have filed an action in B.C. Supreme Court Friday alleging defamation against several unidentified Internet commentators who “have spread lies about Brian over the internet, following Brian’s dismissal as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Burke, through lawyer Peter Gall of Heenan Blaikie LLP, is suing for damages and an injunction preventing the defendants “John Does #1 to #18” (identified only by their blog and comment forum user names) from posting any more defamatory statements online.
The comments in question were posted on numerous blogs and hockey forums “explaining” why Burke was fired as Leafs GM in January 2013.
The notice of civil claim says the Internet commentators were spreading lies, alleging Burke had a sexual relationship with a female sports reporter, and may be the father of her child.
continued with the usernames of the commentators...
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
It was Brian Burke’s words that stole the show, as the former Leafs GM took centre stage at the annual Conn Smythe Dinner in support of Easter Seals and recounted his experience as the centre of the centre of the hockey universe.
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
“As a GM, if you pay attention to what the sports writers write, you’re a fool,” he said. “The sports page, when you are losing, has value only if you own a puppy or a parakeet.”
The denizens of broadcast and digital media will be happy to know they were not immune from Burke’s territorial spreadings.
“The worst thing that ever happened to sports was talk radio,” Burke said. “And the internet is talk radio on steroids with lower IQs.”
You had to take it all with the usual shaker of salt, of course. And give Burke credit: At least he turned the gun on himself now and then.
“I’ve never seen a loaded weapon in a boardroom yet,” he said, speaking of the problem of overpaying free agents — to which he more than once fell victim. “So if I’m (over)paying a guy, it’s not because someone’s got a revolver to my head. It’s because I’m an idiot.”
No, Burke hasn’t lost his touch for reeling off scrappy zingers. And no, he hasn’t lost his appetite for zigging while others zag. At times on Friday it seemed as though Burke was going out of his way to provoke and inflame.
from Curtis Zupke at NHL.com,
Brian Burke was back in familiar surroundings Sunday and declared himself ready to resume his partnership with the Anaheim Ducks, however brief it might be.
"It's a familiar feeling to walk back in the building," Burke said. "I have a lot of respect for [Ducks general manager] Bob Murray. I think he's a real good hockey guy. We've worked together, worked in Vancouver, worked here. I think he's an excellent GM, and I hope my experience can help at some points, and it's nice to be back."
Burke was hired as a part-time professional scout this week for Anaheim, the team that he built into a rough-and-skilled Stanley Cup champion in 2007. Murray and the Ducks reached out to the Toronto Maple Leafs about employing Burke, who was fired Jan.9 as their GM.
Burke said his gig will run through the end of this season. He plans on getting up to speed on his former team and will watch their American Hockey League affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, next weekend. He remains based in Toronto and is employed by it in a non-hockey role.
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the National Hockey League (NHL) club has named Brian Burke to a part-time professional scouting position within the organization.
“We are happy to welcome Brian back to the organization,” said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “Anytime you can add a person of his quality to your staff, it makes your organization better. We’ve had success working together before and look forward to doing it again.”
Burke returns to the Ducks after originally serving as Executive Vice President/General Manager from 2005-08. Over his three-plus seasons with the organization, the Ducks captured their first Stanley Cup (2007), first Pacific Division title (2007) and first two 100+ point seasons (2006-07 & 2007-08). The Ducks also qualified for the postseason in all three seasons, winning six of eight playoff series over that span.
added 2:00pm, via a Toronto Maple Leafs release,
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Thursday that the team's Senior Advisor Brian Burke will assume a part-time pro scouting position with the Anaheim Ducks effective immediately.
"Brian and I discussed this opportunity after Anaheim approached the Leafs for permission to speak with him about a possible scouting role," said Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) President Tom Anselmi. "We both agreed that taking this role with Anaheim would best position Brian for his next general manager opportunity in the League. We have granted permission and we will terminate his consulting contract with MLSE so that he can pursue this role with Anaheim."
The press conference is scheduled to begin at 12:00pm ET.
update 12:22pm, Conference is over.
added 12:31pm, from TSN,
Speaking to the media at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday three days after being fired as senior vice-president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Burke gave a clear answer as to what went wrong under his direction.
"We didn't win enough, and that's why we're here today," he said prior to answering questions from reporters.
"I did not accomplish what I set out to accomplish."
added 2:25pm, Watch the press conference below, via Sportsnet.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Brian Burke knew exactly what to do. Didn’t even need to think about it for more than a second.
As soon as he learned he had been relieved of his duties as general manager of hockey’s most scrutinized team, he bolted from the Air Canada Centre to pick up his two youngest daughters, aged 7 and 8, at school.
“I called the older kids on the way, but I wanted the little ones to hear it from me first,” Burke told the Star today in an exclusive interview.
“They were okay. They just wanted to know if we’d have to move again. I said no.”
Thanks to the HockeyWebCaster for the video.
Now, the top sound bites from Brian Burke.
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
So, here's a question: how many times do you see a GM on a run of regular-season disappointment get fired -- but the rest of his staff survive untouched?
It doesn't happen. You get an interim replacement or a complete Mr. Clean-style changeover. And that's the proof that whatever happened with Brian Burke was personal. Whether on-ice or the boardroom, someone importantdidn't want him around.
There is no question Burke was in trouble. While Burke has supporters for the work he's done with the team's prospect base, another season without a playoff performance probably meant the end. But this move was a total stunner, coming hours before the NHL ratified its new CBA with the players.
Other governors were shocked. The NHL's meeting was loaded with people who make the kinds of decisions Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment did Wednesday morning.
"You never do it on a lark," one said.
If refusing to trade for Luongo was the last straw for Burke it suggests a 'win-now' mentality that almost never ends well for anyone.
I'm sure it signals something. The Leafs just fired their superstar president and general manager so suddenly it's like they opened a trap door on him. He's gone in mid-sentence.
The biggest shame is that he's not around to properly explain what happened.
No one else will.
-Michael Grange of Sportsnet where you can read more on the firing of Brian Burke.
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Shocking in that there were no rumours it was going to happen, and the timing is downright bizarre, with the 113-day lockout having just ended and the season set to start Jan. 19. Why throw the entire organization into flux now?
But not shocking because of all the rumblings on the street.
The guess is here is Burke was fired for one of two reasons.
One, at least half of the new MLSE ownership team, Bell, was seemingly prepared to fire Burke during the summer. The boss there, George Cope, reportedly disliked Burke's management style and brash public comments, and thought he was "bad for the brand."
Two, both Bell and Rogers are keen on a deal for Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, and Burke was resisting such a move. He said repeatedly of late that he was "90 per cent" certain he wanted to go with the combination of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens in net, and had talked several times about his frustrations of dealing with Vancouver GM Mike Gillis, particularly since he wasn't sure dealing for Luongo was the right move.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired general manager Brian Burke, reports TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie.
The club will hold a press conference today at 1:45pm et/10:45am pt.
added 1:37pm, Sportsnet is also streaming their own version of the firing and it is available to US fans too. Watch here.
added 2:20pm, from TSN,
The Toronto Maple Leafs have replaced general manager Brian Burke with Dave Nonis taking over as the new GM and senior vice president. Burke will remain with the organization as a senior advisor.
"Brian will not have direct authority over hockey operations, however this new role will allow our board and I to continue to benefit from his hockey expertise," MLSE president Tom Anselmi said in a statement. "We want to thank Brian for accepting his new role and staying on with our organization."
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Brian Burke has made some recent appearances alongside Gary Bettman and Bill Daly on the NHL side of the labour negotiations, which raises some fascinating questions. Is Burke representing himself, his personal views, or the views of the ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Burke is a known hardliner on the NHL’s side, a hawk on the owners’ side. But it would be in the best interest of current Leafs ownership to be playing as soon as possible. In other words, it is thought the Leafs’ owners — Larry Tanenbaum, George Cope of Bell and Nadir Mohammad — would be closer to dove than hawk when it comes to settling the lockout.
This labour split of sorts has some observers wondering what Burke’s long-term future would be with his personal politics taking precedence over that of his team.
a few more hockey notes but mostly Grey Cup related bits...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
While Burke's Leafs continue to struggle to find traction in rejoining the NHL's elite clubs -- they are the only NHL team to have missed the playoffs in every season since the last lockout -- there is no disputing the masterful job Burke and his management team did in assembling of the U.S. coaching staff and playing roster in Vancouver, and then stickhandling them through the landmines that such a tournament presents en route to the emotionally charged gold medal game.
But here's where it gets interesting for head of USA Hockey David Ogrean and top officials like Jim Johannson, who is the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. What's the goal for USA Hockey when it comes to best-on-best tournaments like the Olympics?
Is it about sharing the experience? Is it about making sure people like Paul Holmgren, Ray Shero, Dean Lombardi, Stan Bowman, George McPhee, Dale Tallon or David Poile all get a turn?
Or is it about balancing that kind of "everyone on the bus" philosophy with consistency and hoping that consistency yields success in those competitions, which ultimately benefits everyone in a national body like USA Hockey?
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and the newest member of his team, James Van Riemsdyk, both completed conference calls with media on Saturday night shortly after he was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Luke Schenn.
[On JVR’s playing style] “I don’t want to create any illusion or delusion that we’re acquiring James Van Riemsdyk as a physical presence. This is not a big banger. This is a guy who uses his size when he should. He uses it to create offensive opportunities, he uses it down low and he’s responsible and reliable in his own end. This is not a guy who’s going to put people through the glass. Sometimes people look at a big player and say oh he’s big so he should play tough. This is a skill player with size… This is not a plough horse. This is a thoroughbred.”
James Van Riemsdyk
[On going to Toronto] “Obviously there’s some mixed emotions because the Philadelphia organization has treated me well… But at the same time, going to play in Toronto is really exciting for me. The tradition they have there, the city, the fans, it’s all unbelievable. Growing up a big time Yankees fan, it’s kind of like playing for the New York Yankees of the NHL. I’m definitely looking forward to getting everything going.”
more from each of them…
Will Brian Burke step-down from his position with the Leafs, will he take a leave of absence?
Bob McKenzie on the topics at-hand.