Burke gets his walking papers just as the lockout ends.
Hockey is back, but Brian Burke, apparently, won’t be. According to reports from several media outlets, the Leafs’ GM, known outside the sporting world for his gay-rights advocacy, has been fired. That’s all we know right now, but we’ll update when more details surface.
Sportsnet is reporting that the Leafs have scheduled a press conference for 1:45 p.m.
Dave Nonis, who until today had been the Leafs’ senior vice president of hockey operations. Nonis was General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks between 2004 and 2008, and he has a long resume of other hockey-related administrative jobs at various other teams, which have included several stints under Burke.At a press conference, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President and COO Tom Anselmi introduced Burke’s replacement:
Anselmi wouldn’t cite specific reasons for the firing, but he did allude to recent shakeups at the team’s parent company, including its buyout by Bell and Rogers. “This was a decision that the board and myself collectively made,” Anselmi said. “It’s a product of a conversation that’s been going on for some time, since the sale closed back in August.”
As for the decision to announce the firing right at the end the months-long hockey lockout, Anselmi made no apologies. Sounding like someone justifying a sudden breakup, he said, essentially, that there was no point in carrying on. As he put it: “The relationship between the general manager and ownership is a very complex and different relationship and it has to work long-term, and if you’ve decided that it’s not going to work long term, you’re best to deal with it and deal with it expeditiously.”
Nonis said he was informed of his promotion this morning. He didn’t offer any specifics as to what he’ll be doing as general manager, but he did take a moment to praise his former boss. “We have some work to do,” Nonis admitted to reporters. But, he said, “I think people will say that a lot of the things Brian Burke did were very positive.”
Burke had been general manager of the team since 2008.