Skip to content

Burke era in Toronto: Trades, truculence and tirades

Jan 9, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT

Brian Burke Getty Images

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

The Burke era began in 2008 and spanned 305 games, with a record of 128-135-42 and zero playoff appearances.

Those are the numbers, but this story is about more.

Much, much more.

Let’s take a look back at some of Burke’s most memorable moments in Tronna.

Trades

It’s hard to know exactly where to start. Burke was a perpetual mover and shaker during his time in Toronto, making over 40 trades in what amounted to a total roster overhaul.

He brought in the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, John-Michael Liles, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, Matt Lombardi and David Steckel.

He shipped out the likes of Tomas Kaberle, Luke Schenn, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White.

He brought in and shipped out Kris Versteeg, JS Giguere and Francois Beauchemin.

But the signature move of Burke’s wheeling and dealing was the Kessel trade, in which Boston netted two first-round picks that would become Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

It was his boldest and most contentious move, one that will continue to be referenced well into Dave Nonis’ tenure.

Truculence

“We require, as a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence,” Burke told the media upon being hired in 2008. “That’s how our teams play.”

It’s the line that stuck with Burke throughout his time in Toronto.

While the strategy reaped huge rewards in Anaheim — Burke won a Cup with a roster featuring Shawn Thornton, Travis Moen, George Parros, Sean O’Donnell and Brad May — it never came to fruition with the Leafs.

The likes of Colton Orr, Mike Brown, Garnet Exelby and Jay Rosehill were acquired in an ill-fated effort to get tough and, in perhaps his most egregious “tough” signing, Burke shelled out $22.5 million for Mike Komisarek.

“He’s a respected competitor in this league,” Burke said upon signing Komisarek. “We know that he will bring his hard-nosed approach to our team on a consistent basis.”

Komisarek only appeared in 45 games last year and was often a healthy scratch.

Today, he’s mostly mentioned as an amnesty buyout candidate.

Tirades

Burke was nothing if not combative during his four-plus years on the job. Fights, feuds and potential fisticuffs were constant:

He ripped ESPN

He ripped CBC

– He said the Penguins were good because they “won a goddamn lottery

He ripped Don Cherry

He ripped Ron MacLean

– He wanted to rent a barn to stage a fist fight between him and Kevin Lowe

He ripped Leafs fans

He ripped the Toronto media

– He called Ron Wilson a “Hall of Fame coach” then fired him three months later

He ripped Francois Allaire

He ripped anonymous player polls

Say what you will about the job he did, or the way he conducted himself — the NHL is going to be less interesting now that Brian Burke’s no longer a part of it.

Related

Leafs fire Brian Burke (!!!); Nonis named replacement

Latest Posts
  1. Stars chase Andersen, tie series with Ducks 2-2

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars - Game Four Getty Images

    Just a nightmarish evening for Anaheim.

  2. Penguins blow three-goal lead, Columbus evens series

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:12 PM EDT

    Lee Stempniak, David Savard Lee Stempniak, David Savard

    Pittsburgh once again can’t hold a team to less than three goals.

  3. NHL suspends Matt Cooke for seven games

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Cooke

    He was punished for a knee-on-knee hit to Colorado’s Tyson Barrie.

  4. Video: Adams sparks Penguins run with shorthanded goal

    Apr 23, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT

    Adams goal

    But Pittsburgh’s lead is far from secure.

  5. Ducks’ Getzlaf (upper body) isn’t available for Game 4 (Updated)

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM EDT

    Ryan Getzlaf, Kari Lehtonen, Erik Cole, Kevin Connauton AP

    He was second in the regular season scoring race.

  6. WATCH LIVE: Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars (Game 4)

    Apr 23, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT

    Ryan Garbutt, Cody Eakin AP

    The game will start at 8:00 p.m. ET.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets (Game 4)

    Apr 23, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT

    Artem Anisimov, Kris Letang AP

    Neither team has done a good job of playing with the lead.

  8. Mason has ‘no expectations’ of starting Game 4 for Flyers

    Apr 23, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    Philadelphia Flyers v Florida Panthers Getty Images

    He made his series debut in the late stages of Game 3.

  9. Colorado will give Hishon NHL debut in Game 4 vs. Wild

    Apr 23, 2014, 4:21 PM EDT

    JoeyHishon Getty Images

    Patrick Roy made it official on Wednesday.

  10. Niederreiter to replace Cooke on Wild’s shutdown line

    Apr 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild - Game Three Getty Images

    There he is with Patrick Bordeleau’s glove in his face.

  11. Blues lose Morrow for remainder of Chicago series

    Apr 23, 2014, 2:43 PM EDT

    BrendenMorrow2 Getty Images

    Physical battle starting to take its toll.

Featured video

Chances Blue Jackets bounce back?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Backes (3298)
  2. T. Oshie (3120)
  3. M. Duchene (2786)
  4. B. Bishop (2537)
  5. S. Mason (2470)
  1. R. Getzlaf (2468)
  2. O. Palat (2305)
  3. H. Zetterberg (1994)
  4. N. MacKinnon (1940)
  5. R. Emery (1613)