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Maple Leafs fire Brian Burke

CBC

Brian Burke has been fired as the president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tom Anselmi made the move official during a news conference at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Wednesday, and also named Dave Nonis the team's new general manager.

"We've decided to make a leadership change and move in a different direction for the general manager role," Anselmi said.

Anselmi also confirmed that Burke will serve as a senior adviser to the team.

The decision to remove Burke from his two roles wasn't sparked by a key moment or "incident," Anselmi said.

"This was a decision that the board and myself collectively made," Anselmi said. "It's the product of a conversation that has been going on for some time."

Nonis previously served as general manager with the Vancouver Canucks, following Burke's tenure with that team. The Leafs' new GM — the 14th in team history — was the man who orchestrated the deal that brought Roberto Luongo to Vancouver from the Florida Panthers.

Nonis confirmed that Randy Carlyle would remain the Maple Leafs' head coach. Carlyle was hired by the Leafs under Burke in March to replace the fired Ron Wilson.

"We need a coach like that to push players out of their comfort zone," Nonis said.

Burke's record with the Leafs over three-plus seasons was 128-135-42. Last season the team finished 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto has missed the playoffs every season since Burke joined the organization in November 2008.

Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said the players bear some responsibility for Burke's demise.

“It means we're not getting the job done," Lupul told reporters outside the team’s practice facility.

Nonis won't have time to ease into the new role as the lockout-shortened NHL season is expected to start on Jan. 19.

"We're going to have a very short window in order to make some decisions about this hockey team," Nonis said. "We're going to focus on that right now."

Burke, 57, has two years remaining on his contract with Toronto and had previously served as general manager with the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks and Hartford Whalers.

The news came as a shock to the hockey world. Burke and most of his front office staff attended Tuesday night's game between the Leafs' AHL farm club, the Toronto Marlies, and the Hamilton Bulldogs in Hamilton.

The Maple Leafs were officially taken over by Rogers and BCE on Aug. 22.

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