The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired general manager Brian Burke, according to media reports.
The move was confirmed at a Toronto Maple Leafs press conference on Wednesday afternoon. The Leafs also named Dave Nonis, one of Burke's assistants, as the new GM for the Leafs.
“Earlier this morning Brian Burke was relieved of his duties as president and GM. But he will stay on as senior advisor to the board," Tom Anselmi, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, told the press conference.
Burke, who has been the GM of the Leafs since 2008, has failed to get the team into the playoffs during his tenure in Toronto. Burke's firing comes mere days before the start of the shortened 2013 season.
"I want to thank Brian for everything he's done, Years down the road we'll be able to see the mark that he made," Dave Nonis said at the press conference.
"We are going to have a short window to make some difficult decisions going forward and we are going to focus on that," Nonis added.
Nonis also said that he would not be gutting the team to rebuild. "I know it's hard to recognize, but the reserve list is much stronger, the group is much stronger," he said. Nonis also expressed support for coach Randi Carlyle.
The Leafs are also rumoured to be in talks with the Vancouver Canucks to acquire star goaltender Roberto Luongo, a move that would dramatically shape both franchises.
Nonis was GM of the Vancouver Canucks when that team acquired Roberto Luongo from the Florida Panthers. When asked whether Luongo played a role in Burke's ousting, Anselmi firmly said no at the press event.
Burke's time in Toronto will likely be defined by two big trades. Burke brought Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf to Toronto in a seven-player deal in 2010. Phaneuf would become the Leafs captain and the anchor on their blue line.
In 2009, Burke traded for sniper Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins in exchange for first-round draft picks in 2010 and 2011. The Bruins would go on to draft Tyler Seguin in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton in 2011. The Bruins would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Burke's time in Toronto was marred by his prickly relationship with the city's sports media. But Burke also gained significant respect for marching in the Pride Parade in 2010and 2011. His son, Brendan Burke, died in 2010. Brendan, who wanted to pursue a career in hockey management, had come out to his family.
The American-born Burke was hired by the Leafs for his success in Vancouver, where he made franchise defining deals like drafting the Sedin twins, and in Anaheim, where Burke led the team to a Stanley Cup.
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