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. Trottier excited to be NHL coach after 11-year break

    Sep 14, 2014, 10:56 PM EDT

    Bryan Trottier Getty Images

    The Hall of Famer has been tasked with aiding bench boss Ted Nolan in Buffalo’s difficult rebuild.

  2. Devils post-Martin Brodeur era about to truly start

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 04: Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on March 4, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. Getty Images

    Training camp will “absolutely” have a different mood to it.

  3. Pronger offers guidance to towering Samuel Morin

    Sep 14, 2014, 6:01 PM EDT

    Samuel Morin AP

    The Flyers have high hopes for the young defenseman.

  4. Quenneville doesn’t think Kane has peaked

    Sep 14, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks advances the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during an exhibition game at United Center on September 19, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Penguins defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout.
(September 18, 2013 - Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    He looked like a serious Hart Trophy candidate in the first half of 2013-14.

  5. Domi in contention for roster spot with Arizona

    Sep 14, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    maxdomigetty Getty Images

    But can he contribute at the NHL level?

  6. Sabres’ Myers looking to put disappointing season behind him

    Sep 14, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Tyler Myers Getty Images

    Was rumored to be heading out of Buffalo at NHL Draft.

  7. Report: Rangers expected to announce captain on Thursday

    Sep 14, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Ryan McDonagh Getty Images

    Ryan McDonagh likely choice to wear ‘C’.

  8. Flames’ Bennett compares Gaudreau to McDavid

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Sam Bennett Getty Images

    Calgary’s prospects show hope for the future in southern Alberta.

  9. Jackets preparing for life without Johansen

    Sep 14, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets v Carolina Hurricanes Getty Images

    Opportunities available for prospects Boone Jenner and Alexander Wennberg.

  10. Darnell Nurse focused on earning a spot with the Oilers

    Sep 14, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Zack Kassian, Darnell Nurse.

    That’s him, wearing No. 74 for the Oilers, during a pre-season game last year.

  11. Stars prospect Ritchie suffers finger injury

    Sep 13, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Lindy Ruff AP

    Report: He will have it checked out in Dallas.

  12. Snider: Flyers not hiding behind ‘horrible mistake’ of signing Bryzgalov

    Sep 13, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Ilya Bryzgalov Getty Images

    Philly bought out the high-priced goalie in the summer of 2013.

  13. Flames’ prospect Bennett wants to prove he’s NHL ready

    Sep 13, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    SamBennett2 Getty Images

    He was taken fourth overall in June’s NHL Draft.

  14. P.K. Subban: ‘I’m not trying to change the game of hockey’

    Sep 13, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    P.K. Subban AP

    He re-signed with the Habs this summer. Eight years, $72 million.

  15. Report: Gelinas’ deal “in Eric’s hands”

    Sep 13, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Eric Gelinas #22 of the New Jersey Devils skates in an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings at Prudential Center on November 15, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The 23-year-old defenseman is prepared to miss camp if a deal isn’t reached.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Brodeur (1269)
  2. D. Kuemper (1258)
  3. J. Drouin (1160)
  4. P. Rinne (1134)
  5. J. Tavares (1078)