Maple Leafs Fire Burke as GM.

Burke fired as Maple Leafs GM.

Burke fired as Maple Leafs GM.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced the firing of Brian Burke as general manager, replacing him with assistant GM Dave Nonis.  Burke will remain with the club as a senior adviser to Nonis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a shocking move, not so much that he was fired, given the team’s record during his tenure, but the timing. Everyone in the hockey world right now is asking, “why now?” Why not last summer, following the end of yet another disappointing season? Though the new ownership is obviously a factor, it’s strange that this would come at this time, coming on the heels of a four-month lockout.  

The new ownership claimed they wanted a more low-key, democratic corporate style, and Nonis certainly should fit the bill. Nonis has years of management experience, including several as GM of the Vancouver Canucks, where he was instrumental in bringing Roberto Luongo to Vancouver. One wonders now if having Nonis as the Leafs GM might be a factor in the club’s pursuit of Luongo, or if he’ll look at other alternatives.

One thing is clear: the bellicose Burke was the author of his own demise. Of the moves Burke made, it’ll be the Phil Kessel deal (giving up two first round draft picks to Boston, one of which became rising star Tyler Seguin) which will be remembered, for better or worse, by Leafs fan.

16 Comments

  1. Insane. Odd timing, no reason…one would think he would get to try his rebuild out at least, even if its version 3 and four years in the running.

    Seems like this franchise is tailspinning since Pat Quinn days…Ferguson, Burke, Maurice, Wilson, Carlyle and tons and tons of bad trades/players chased in and out of town. When is it going to end, when is there going to be a franchise like Detriot with lifers and GM/coach with a plan?

  2. … as were the terrible contracts to Komisarek and Finger, also trying to get JVR to play center.

  3. Didn’t see it coming..at least, not at this point in time. Nonis is a good choice and glad he’s been given the title outright. As per the press conference, one gets the impression that Burke’s style and what new management wanted as a corporate face differed enough to make this move; although detail is missing.

    I imagine once the new CBA is fully ratified by the BOG and the players, significant player movement will occur and I fully expect the Maple Leafs to be fairly active. I do wonder too, now that Burke has been removed, whether or not Nonis will have greater ease and reception among other GM’s when it comes to making trades etc. Time will tell

  4. Nonis needs to make the Luongo deal happen within the next 10 days. Toronto like it or not is the hockey centre of the universe. There has been no superstar in the blue and white since Sundin left. It’s like the NY Yankees having no superstar, the fans simply want a household name on the ice. Think back to when Fuhr played in Toronto, yes he was near the end of his career, but he gave the fans somethingto cheer about after the dismal 1980’s and the long list of Leaf goalies who couldn’t stop the puck from going in the net. Alot of up and coming players and UFA’s would be more likely to play/sign with Toronto if Luongo was on the team.

    • New York Yankees? You must be kidding, where are your championships and dynasties to prove it? Montreal up until the 80’s were the closest thing to being the Yankees of Hockey. But there are no more Yankees in the game. To be at the center of the Hockey universe or to be considered the Yankees of Hockey, you need championships along with obsessive & massive fan support. Toronto has the fans but no trophies. Detroit might be the closest to being able to claim Dynasty status in recent years, but they are not at the center of Hockey’s Universe either. One thing is certain, no one outside Toronto thinks that the Leafs are at the center of the universe. Ask Free-Agents. Your team is chasing a 30 year old goalie with a ten year deal after a lockout that will be dropping the salary cap. No one with an ounce of talent and upside are going to Toronto by choice so quit the delusional claims. All roads do not lead to Toronto.

      • Well put Chris.

  5. There is some bad blood between Burke and the Canucks. Most speculated that Burke would need to get Luongo in hopes of making the playoffs and thus saving his job. With the timing of this one has to wonder if he couldn’t get a deal done so either a)Get Nonis in there because he has a better history both with the Canucks and with Roberto and get this friggin’ team to the playoffs or b)They didn’t want to let Burke make a trade like that just to save his job and is going with a bit more of a…dare I say it?…REBUILD APPROACH!

    • i am not upset that burke got fired, i mean there is no real reasons i can come up with to say he shouldnt have been fired. the team just never seeemed to make any progress, can you put a bunch of the blame on goaltending, yes, but he was incharged of that too. honestly though the more the years go one the more i questioned why i am a leaf fan. the timing of this decision is just another reason for me to question that. and unless they take a huge step forward this year in regards to seeing actual on ice team progress i am further to that point of just throwing my hands up.

      • How many teams with a plan to win championships make the playoffs after a 4 year rebuild? Who won a championship as the last seed? L.A won as the last seed but their rebuild took them 10 to 15 years, they missed the playoffs for many years and they were much better than an eighth place team last season. Their position in the standings was due to the fact that they underachieved, not because they lacked talent or depth. To claim Burke had to make the playoffs after 4 years, when he said he wanted to be a contender before he got into the post season is ridiculous. No worthy teams can blow up, make it to the playoff after 4 years and be contenders as well. Championship teams take years to build. More than 4. He was fired because of his corporate image, not competence. This team has a better long-term future than the one Burke inherited and he brought in much better players than the ones he came in with. So the team has improved and progressed.

        • Chris, he did promise to make the playoffs. While I don’t disagree with your logic about rebuilding, Burke apparently did as he stated numerous times that the team would make the playoffs. Burke has a big enough mouth to fit several feet in there.

        • Although I agree with the firing the timing was terrible. Burke’s stubborness and truculence theory which might have worked 20 years ago and his primadona attitude, cost him his job. He was trying to rebuild but aquired a lot of driftwood and the chip on his shoulder to not aquire marquis players by giving up draft picks or younger players ultimately cost him in the long run. He could have had that team for another 5 years without making much difference, but getting back to the main point timing was terrible because the new regime will not make any difference this year which will still piss off the fans.

  6. The more things change the more they seem the same in leafs land. Whether or not you think Burke had to go, the timing is odd.

  7. When you have a GM who has one third of the leagues other GM’s won’t deal with, it signals a problem that needs to be fixed…and it has been.

  8. *Finger was a Fletcher signing

    Burke just burned too many bridges it seems… but the timing of this does provide an unnecessary distraction for the team… however maybe it will light a fire under some of the players who were brought in BY Burke, now knowing that their performance lead to his firing (unless they didn’t like him of course…)

    • Finger was Fergusons doing.

  9. Burke was fired for non-hockey related reasons, Toronto gossip has it.