Brian Burke is reportedly headed back to Western Canada, but not for a third stint with the Vancouver Canucks.
Burke, who served as the team’s director of hockey operations in 1987 and later general manager, is expected to join the Calgary Flames’ front office Thursday. The team is holding a news conference at 10 a.m. MT.
Most recently, the 58-year-old Burke served as a part-time scout in Anaheim, where he led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup title as GM in 2007.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Burke as GM in November 2008 but his expedited rebuild didn’t result in a playoff berth during his three-plus seasons at the helm. He was fired in January after compiling a 128-135-42 regular-season record.
The take-charge Burke made some bold moves in Toronto, including trades for right-winger Phil Kessel and one-time Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, and many expect the same in Calgary.
While the Flames have some decent prospects in left-winger Sven Baertschi, centre Sean Monahan and defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon, it promises to be a longer rebuild in Calgary.
The Flames, coming off a 19-25-4 mark in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, have missed the post-season in each of the past four seasons and not advanced past the first round since 2004, the summer before the first lockout.
And they don’t resemble a Burke outfit, one with size and truculence and pugnacity. Right-winger Tim Jackman led the team in penalty minutes last season with 79 in 42 games, but noted pugilist Brian McGrattan is in town after re-signing for two years and $1.5 million US in July.
In June, veteran goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff told his Flames teammates and reportedly management that he wouldn’t return for training camp, which opens Sept. 11.
Burke likes building from the goalie out but he wouldn’t have a bona fide starter at the position if the soon-to-be 37-year-old Kiprusoff retires. Journeyman Joey MacDonald probably isn’t the answer but the Flames liked him enough after he arrived off the waiver wire to give him a raise to $925,000 for the upcoming campaign.
He would likely battle former Kontinental Hockey League netminder Karri Ramo and Swiss goalie Reto Berra at camp. Leland Irving, who filled in for an injured Kiprusoff last season, is an unrestricted free agent and expected to try out for Finnish club Jokerit.
Defensively, Calgary isn’t deep and not big, while veteran winger Mike Cammalleri was the Flames’ top scorer last season with 32 points in 44 contests. Curtis Glencross’s 15 goals also led the team.
After Burke’s first stint in Vancouver, he joined the Hartford Whalers for one season as GM before leaving for the NHL office in New York as executive vice president and director of hockey operations.
He returned to Vancouver four years later to become GM, a position he filled until 2004 when he went south to Anaheim.