The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired general manager Brian Burke just days before the expected start of training camp for the 2013 season, ending four years that produced plenty of controversy but not a single appearance in the playoffs. Bob McKenzie of TSN was first with the news.
Burke was hired in Nov. 2008 as president and GM of the Leafs, becoming the first American-born GM in the team’s history. At the time his deal was a reported six years and $18 million.
His legacy includes controversial trades and decisions not to trade, as was chronicled by Damien Cox:
To a large extent, he knew what he was getting into. His rationale for making the Phil Kessel trade was that if he didn’t get things moving with the Leafs in three years, there would be calls for his neck. And he was right. He has fought with Don Cherry, fought with Francois Allaire, fought with many members of the media. He has fired Ron Wilson, traded Tomas Kaberle, testified against the New Jersey Devils and stolen Jake Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul.
... The Dion Phaneuf deal was a steal, but Phaneuf has had an uneven run as captain. The team isn’t the big, physical team many believed it would be. Nazem Kadri, Burke’s first top pick in Toronto, has yet to make an imprint at the NHL level. Goaltending has been a constant concern. Wilson stayed too long as coach.
Rumors of his firing have been rampant since June.
Naturally, the Toronto media machine is claiming there "must be more to this story" because they've all heard rumors about Burke's behavior away from the rink for years, couldn't report about it and now assume it's all accurate.
According to McKenzie, Dave Nonis is the new GM of the Leafs. The fact that the entire front office wasn't cleared out should indicate this was about one man.
We’ll have much, much more on this as the story develops.
UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: The narrative being established right now -- that Leafs ownership wanted to trade for Roberto Luongo, Brian Burke didn't and that was the last straw.