Brian Burke fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs

So that just happened.

Not that we needed confirmation, given that this is Bob McKenzie, but here’s Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos:

The timing of this almost defies belief. The NHL lockout is all but officially over, and soon teams are going to go from idling, as they have been all fall and winter, to full speed as they rush to get their teams on the ice and pull off any last minute trades to address injuries and weaknesses. It’s a very strange time to dismiss a general manager, and a difficult time to line up a replacement who can hit the ground running. One would assume that Burke’s lieutenant, Dave Nonis, will be left in charge of the team but there’s been no word yet on who the Leafs are looking at as a replacement.

As for what this does to the rumoured interest of the Leafs in Roberto Luongo, here’s Kypreos again:

There’s been a lot of speculation that a disagreement between management and ownership on the acquisition of Luongo might be the reason for Burke’s departure, but that doesn’t really track cleanly for me. Luongo’s been available since last summer, and the new ownership has been officially in place since fall – if there were substantive difference between Burke and his employers on that front, one would imagine it could have been dealt with during a less frenetic time for the team. 

Burke surived a little under four seasons without guiding the Leafs to a playoff appearance. He also survived a lockout where he was seen as one of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s most loyal supporters. It’s going to be interesting to learn what exactly prompted the team to part ways with him now, just over a week before the likely start of a shortened NHL season.

Post-script – surprise seems to be the order of the day for hockey men and media alike:

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Always liked Burke. He’s a big picture guy not afraid to make big changes. If you’re on Brians like list you’ll always find yourself employed. He built a couple pretty good clubs in Vancouver and Anaheim before he moved east closer to home. Some deals haven’t worked out as he had hoped, but Brian Burke is probably glad to be out of Hells Kitchen with the 12 chefs in charge in Toronto. Brian Burke must not have had the control of the hockey club he thought he had.

    Dave Nonis has probably already been fitted for the handcuffs preventing him from making the Leafs his own as well. They deserve each other in Leafland with corporate leadership like this.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Burke is like the loud grumpy old lady at bingo who never wins but yet still buys as many cards as she can hoping for the best. His gambles will be seen as fails on all fronts, I never thought for one second that Phaneuf is a leader. Kessel is a toss up, but three years into that deal the Bruins look like gangbusters. Burkes Leafs Legacy will be muffing on Seguin, drafting Khadri, praising Coliaccavo and making crybaby Phaneuf captain. Godspeed Burke and take your big piehole stateside.