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“I was floored, and I still am stunned,” says Burke on firing

Jan 11, 2013, 1:46 PM EDT

Brian Burke AP

Like most observers, Brian Burke was shocked when he learned that he’d been fired as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I was floored, and I still am stunned. I’ve never been fired before,” Burke told the Toronto Star in his first interview since being relieved of his duties on Wednesday. “How am I doing? I’m doing okay.

Despite the shock, Burke had nothing but good things to say about his experience in charge of the Leafs.

“I’m so grateful I had a chance to run the crown jewel franchise of the NHL,” he said. “I’m grateful to have been given the chance to live in Toronto. I love this city and I am grateful for the support of the fans.”

What Burke didn’t provide (on the record, at least) were his thoughts on the people that fired him.

On Wednesday, MLSE president and CEO Tom Anselmi said the move was “more about tone and the voice of leadership than changing gears and going in a different direction.”

It’s since been reported that Bell CEO George Cope (Bell and Rogers own 75 percent of MLSE) was Burke’s main detractor.

Related: Burke era in Toronto: Trades, truculence and tirades

  1. rekingcrew - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Though he could move the crown jewel in one phone call and it would only cost a quarter.

  2. thailer35 - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    The “I’m so grateful I had a chance to run the crown jewel franchise of the NHL” quote is missing the last part where he finished with “into the ground.”

    • badintent - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:21 AM

      No surprise here. Burke the Jerk took a a very nice polite sports media in Vancouver and trashed it, and took lots of nice public support and trashed that too. He has left a razed earth in his wake. That’s great for tank warfare on some video game but this clown was a wanna be legbreaker collecting chump change. Chump. That’s sums up his mantra.Fired ? Karma

  3. woodstakes - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Yeah Brian its inconceivable… lets see: in 4+ yrs you’ve made bad trades, bad draft picks, taking vacations during the height of free agency, extending a mediocre coach and NO PLAYOFF APPEARANCES… Yup real SHOCKER!

    • mudkip23 - Jan 11, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      Yeah, but, he didn’t sign any back diving contracts… And we all know that’s much more important than winning at any cost.

  4. klownboy - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    He came off to be as a crusty asshole, so I don’t exactly feel sorry for him. I must say he is funny as hell though…

  5. buddysguys - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    last time i checked the LEAVES have stunk since 1967 or so???? SO don’t blame Burke for the issues this is just another one in long list of bad moves by the entire organization over the course of 46 years.

    BLOW LEAFS BLOW!!!

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 11, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      Let’s not forget the Leafs were a missed call away from the 1993 Finals. They haven’t completely sucked all the time since ’67, just most of it.

      • misterchainbluelightning - Jan 11, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        Missed call? Leafs could have still lost easily with the call

        But yes we can’t forget those 2 seasons where Gilmour was amazing and the Leafs had 2 years of moderate success.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 11, 2013 at 5:45 PM

        mister, it’s my (fuzzy?) recollection that the Leafs led very late in the 3rd of Game 6, 99 high-sticked Gilmour, cutting him, but was not called. Gretzky then tied the game to force OT, which even he would have had trouble doing from the penalty box. So, if the call had been made, probably no tying goal and the Leafs meet the Habs in the Finals. Am I wrong?

  6. h0ckeycoach - Jan 11, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Mr Buddy boy! Burke was hired to turnaround this ailing franchise, but he blew it. So, he’s taking the heat for failing. Nothing wrong with that, because they sure love the praise when they succeed.

  7. colby7 - Jan 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Wasnt he fired by the Canucks?

    • badintent - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      He skipped town AWOL MIA DOA in Toronto.
      He saw the handwriting on the wall when two competing groups of owners had a firefight in and out fo court for control

  8. jason9696 - Jan 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    “Crown jewel”? I’m a huge Leafs fan. But come on now.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 11, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      Yes, they have the most Stanley Cups of any hockey club ever, 13 to Detroit’s mere 11.
      What? Montreal Canadiens have more? Seriously, 24? When the hell did that happen?

      • lordfletcher - Jan 11, 2013 at 8:49 PM

        sitting here in MN, sure is hard to laugh at that…. AHHHH, I’m just kidding….. but one would be nice
        :D

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 11, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        lord, as you know, your North Stars kinda sorta did win the Cup, but sadly it was after they’d been kidnapped and shipped to Texas. :-(

  9. hawkeyplayer - Jan 11, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    I am so excited for Randy Carlyle to redeem his coaching career!

    he was great on the Ducks…

    its just when a team is sucking… they have to let someone go…

    great example is the San Diego Chargers Norv Turner and their GM. poor play by the players leads back to the roots of management. this is an old sports philosophy used to spark a fire under the teams butt!

  10. drewsylvania - Jan 11, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    The Leafs sucked before him, and they sucked with him. But it’s funny that he gets tons of crap for the Kessel deal, while completely rectifying that error with the Kaberle deal.

    • bearcountry17 - Jan 11, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      hahaha good one. Colborne is a bust and Biggs is not going to be more than a 4th liner. The only good piece you got was the 2nd you turned into Liles, who is an offence only d-man with concussion problems whom you signed long term.

      And the two picks you traded to move up to get Biggs ended up being John Gibson(ANA)(WJC MVP) and Rickard Rakall(ANA) who both are considered better prospects at this point in their careers.

      Some major rectification going on there I tell ya.

    • cshearing - Jan 12, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      If you want to talk about great trades, look at the Phaneuf one and the Beuchemin one. Both of those were total robbery by Burke.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Wow, I didn’t realize Colborne is already 23. Does look like a bust to me. But it’s not that trade’s fault that Burke blew it with Liles.

      Really though, it’s more evidence that Burke wasn’t part of the solution.

  11. jkaflagg - Jan 11, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Hope he lands another job soon…..like him or hate him, he’s one of the few executives in hockey who actually says anything interesting…..

  12. buffalo65 - Jan 12, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    Leafs have no cups, winning in a 6 team league hardly counts. Even the CFL has 8 teams.
    Burke was terrible in Toronto. Deserved to be canned, how he was though was a joke.

  13. beergold - Jan 12, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    Yes you have been on the floor and stunned now for 4 plus years…………..just go the hell away!

  14. northstars17 - Jan 12, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    actually if I recall correctly… Mike Madano was the ONLY remaining MN Northstar left on the Dallas Stars when they won the Cup in 1999?

    please correct me if I’m wrong, though.

    geez… Madano, Hull, Belfour, Hatcher, Langenbruner, Sydor, Zubov, Sloan, Keane, Lehtinen, Verbeek, Marshall, Neiwendyck (sp?)… so much talent and surely a “magical” team if I ever saw one!!!

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