Burke On The Move
Can't imagine a single person should be surprised.
Brian Burke wants to work, not sit around and collect a paycheque. The Anaheim Ducks used to employ him and he left there on good terms. The Ducks are a serious contender in the Western Conference and teams in those positions tend to like to gather as many quality hockey people as possible - particularly those with championship pedigree - to deal with the tricky personnel decisions ahead.
And Burke's a highly regarded hockey person. Indeed, it's looking like he put together a pretty decent squad here in Toronto before he had the rug pulled out from under him by corporate meddlers right after the NHL lockout ended.
So surprised? Not a chance.
We can argue all day long about the decisions Burke made in Toronto, the good and the bad, and the development arc of the team. But it's pretty clear those who contended that the Leafs had nothing - many of them lazy media types who never bothered to take in a Marlie game or check out the team's prospects - and that Burke had created nothing were about as far from the truth as one could imagine.
There's going to be some serious back-peddling by some if this team turns out to be as good as it seems right now. (Not to mention by those who contended, and in some cases have actually written, that there's some dirty, nasty story that's yet to be told. But such people never correct the record, do they?)
Anaheim, and GM Bob Murray, already knew that Burke knows something about the sport, of course, and Murray and Burke are thick as thieves. This is a reunion, not an experiment. So the Ducks will use Burke as long as they can until he gets that next GM job.
Meanwhile, this brings to a close the awkward situation created in the wake of Burke's dismissal in Toronto. He believed the day he was fired that he had agreed to be retained as a consultant to GM Dave Nonis and the hockey departement, and declared he was more than willing to travel and scout and do whatever was needed.
Within 24 hours, however, it was clear that wasn't MLSE's intention at all, and the "consultant" tag hung on Burke was simply window dressing. Leaf ownership, notably Bell boss George Cope, wanted Burke gone, and that didn't include hanging around the team or the press box and giving advice to Nonis.
The uncomfortableness of the situation became clear recently when Burke returned to the ACC scouting for U.S.A. Hockey and had a press box seat with that designation. But wasn't he still working for the Leafs? If so, why would he require a special press box seat?
The whole thing was a bit of a sham, and this part-time gig with Anaheim rescues everyone from having to pretend any longer. Burke is history as a Leaf executive, and no connections are left. None, that is, except for the executive, coaching and playing talent he put together that has produced solid results in the early part of this season.