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The Puck Stops Here

Brian Burke Out As Anaheim GM

Brian Burke has been replaced as the Anaheim Duck GM.  Burke will remain as an advisor to the Ducks.  He is free to negotiate employment opportunities with other teams.  Bob Murray takes over as the Anaheim GM.  Burke was in the last year of his contract with Anaheim and it was widely believed that he would leave the team at the end of the season.  Burke had refused to sign a contract extension.  Anaheim decided that they would rather have an unproven GM who is staying with the franchise than have one of the best GM’s in the business who is on his way out the door.  If Anaheim had realized this during the summer, they would have had better options as a replacement GM than Bob Murray.  That would have been preferable if they were unwilling to complete the season with Brian Burke.  It is not uncommon for teams to complete seasons with GMs who do not return (either as the team fired him or as he chose to not re-sign).  That seems like a preferable situation for the Ducks - assuming we have all the facts of the situation.

Brian Burke is one of the top GMs in hockey.  He is credited with building the 2007 Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks team.  His wife Jennifer Mather is a former Vancouver radio and television personality.  She had been unable to work in Southern California (though it isn’t clear how hard she had tried to do so).  They have two young children together and she had been on maternity leave. 

It has long been rumored that Burke is heading to Toronto as the next Maple Leafs GM.  The Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment Group owns two television stations and could easily assure Mather employment if they want to hire Burke. 

As for the Ducks, they chose Bob Murray to be GM instead of former Canuck GM Dave Nonis, who came to Anaheim this summer with the expectation that he would succeed Burke.  That is a surprise.  Murray has been an unsuccessful GM with the Chicago Blackhawks from 1997 to 1999.  That was during Chicago’s downward spiral under owner Bill Wirtz.  It would have been hard for any GM to succeed in those circumstances.  Murray has held several jobs in the Anaheim organization since being fired from Chicago including scouting, senior vice president of hockey operations and GM of their AHL affiliate in Iowa. 

Murray is probably a good enough GM to be given an extended run in Anaheim and not fill the job on a merely interim basis, but he is unlikely one of the top GMs in the NHL.  I predict that more than likely, Anaheim will fall from contender status and Murray will be fired within a couple of years.

Burke’s situation is an interesting one.  He is already on record saying

If the right deal comes up in a week, I’m going in a week.  My goal would be to be working by U.S. Thanksgiving [Nov. 27] and that’s only two weeks away.

That implies that he has basically worked out what his future will be.  More than likely that future is Toronto.  Everyone knows that Toronto wants Brian Burke to be their GM.  Everyone knows that Brian Burke wants to be the Toronto GM.  However, Burke is under contract with the Anaheim Ducks and until recently was not allowed to negotiate with other teams.  How is this situation not tampering?  It certainly appears that Toronto illegally made overtures to the Anaheim GM to come work with them while he was under contract with Anaheim and it has clearly affected his ability to work with Anaheim (Burke is no longer the GM).  Toronto should receive some sort of punishment for this.  Perhaps a loss of their first round draft pick to Anaheim.

It looks as though we will get news of Brian Burke’s next move relatively soon.  Most likely that move will be to Toronto.

Here is TSN’s story on the Burke news.

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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