The Toronto Maple Leafs are apparently ready to go in a different direction as the season begins, and it looks like that means a major shake-up in the front office.
The Maple Leafs fired general manager and president Brian Burke on Wednesday, just days before the 2013 season was set to begin. The club announced that Dave Nonis would be Burke’s replacement on a full-time basis. Burke will remain in the organization as a senior adviser, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment executive vice president Tom Anselmi announced at a news conference.
“There’s no good time to do this,” Anselmi explained. “Like I was saying earlier, once you get to a decision on something like this, it’s really only fair to act upon it. … You can’t fake it. The relationship between the general manager and ownership is a very different and complex relationship. It needs to work and it needs to work long term.”
Burke, a Rhode Island native, had been serving as both GM and president for Toronto. He was hired by the Leafs in November of 2008 after stops in Hartford, Vancouver and Anaheim.
Burke won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, but Toronto struggled mightily during his tenure. The Leafs are in the midst of a prolonged playoff drought and a couple of questionable deals (the Phil Kessel trade comes to mind for Bruins fans) have marked his time in the hockey hotbed. Toronto failed to make the playoffs under Burke’s watch, and the club hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2003-04 — two lockouts ago.
Burke has also had a checkered history when it comes to the draft, something that obviously wasn’t helped when he traded a pair of first-round picks to Boston in 2009 for Kessel. Those picks both turned out to be top 10 selections, which the Bruins used to draft Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, two players viewed as franchise cornerstones in Boston.