After Being Fired As Maple Leafs General Manager, Brian Burke Speaks
Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
By Tony Ambrogio (@SNTonyAmbrogio)
There are a few things that you can always count on: death, taxes and memorable Brian Burke news conferences.
The former President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs met the media on Saturday, for the first time since he was let go from his post Wednesday. He did not disappoint.
“I was stunned by this turn of events no question about it,” said Burke. “I don’t know if I could feel any worse. This was like a 2 by 4 upside the head for me.”
Burke’s Leafs posted a record of 129-135-42.
Talk all you will about Burke’s questionable free agent signings or his bombastic and combative attitude, there is no denying Burke failed to win enough to keep his job.
“We didn’t win enough, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Burke. “I apologize to the fans that I wasn’t able to deliver more to the on ice product. I did not accomplish what I set out to accomplish.”
Burke admitted going through 10 goaltenders during his time in Toronto will in part define his legacy as Leafs GM.
“Clearly goaltending was an issue here, clearly,” admitted Burke. “It is not for lack of trying we weren’t able to solve it. I still believe if James Reimer hadn’t gotten hurt it wouldn’t have been an issue.”
Burke was told why he was fired, but refused to tell the media.
“I view that as something between me and ownership. I believe some of those things belong in the board room,” Burke said.
It is strongly suggested that the new ownership of Rogers and Bell media didn’t like Burke’s image and that – along with a poor job on the ice – resulted in this surprising turn of events.
“I would like to go to work for a team that doesn’t get sold next time. Someone buys a team they have the absolute right to have their guy. I have to pick better next time. The people that hired me hired Brian Burke. Maybe the new guys don’t like that brand. I’m not changing.”
Burke is a Senior Advisor to the Leafs, but was told not to report to the hockey operations side, but to the board of directors. That doesn’t sit well with Burke who admits he wants to be a GM again “tomorrow.”
“If we won enough games you can be as obnoxious as you want to be if you are in first place. We didn’t win enough games.”
Burke says he never was given a “satisfactory” answer as to the timing of the firing, but stressed his firing was handled with class.
“It’s the Vatican. It’s the biggest stage in hockey.”
A stage that becomes quieter without Burke on the scene.