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.