What Toronto Maple Leafs brass, players and hockey insiders are saying about Brian Burke’s firing

What Toronto Maple Leafs brass, players and hockey insiders are saying about Brian Burke’s firing

Brian Burke and Dave Nonis during the NHL entry draft last summer (Image: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)

The reactions to the shocking end of Brian Burke’s tenure as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs—and the slightly awkward beginning of Dave Nonis’—have been swift and varied. While MLSE insists the decision was months in the making, many are baffled it came just days before training camp when ownership could’ve made its move during the lockout. Speculation has also been rampant about who on MLSE’s board pushed hardest for the dramatic dismissal and predictions already abound about how Nonis’s regime will differ from Burke’s. Below, a roundup of comments from those closest to the deal—MLSE bigwigs, the most well-connected pundits and Leafs players. Plus, Rob Ford.

“The leadership relationship between the general manager and ownership is a really unique type of relationship. So style, personality, ways of doing things, those things all factor into it for sure.”

—MLSE president Tom Anselmi

“Burke got the axe Wednesday morning because Bell boss George Cope, after months of campaigning for Burke’s dismissal, finally wore out the Rogers suits and Larry Tanenbaum.”

Toronto Star sportswriter Damien Cox

“It’s a shock for a lot of people…[But] we’re not going to spend a lot of time grieving. We have things to do.”

—Newly-minted GM and Burke protégé Dave Nonis

“We haven’t made the playoffs in how many years? The blame right now has fallen on the GM but I’ll tell you for sure the players take responsibility.”

—Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul

“It’s sad…I’ve known him a long time. But teams do what they have to do. I’ve been traded. I wish him the best and I thank him for everything, but the team here has to do what they have to do.”

—Leafs forward Mike Brown

“People were itching to get Luongo in here and he just sat back and watched things happen…You’ve got to make things happen in this city—especially when you’re dealing with our hockey team.”

—Mayor Rob Ford

“This was the decision of the board. And I’m on the board.”

—MLSE chairman and Burke’s friend Larry Tanenbaum

“Whatever happened with Brian Burke was personal. Whether on-ice or the boardroom, someone important didn’t want him around.”

—CBC hockey personality Elliotte Friedman

Why Was Burke Fired? [Metro Morning]
Brian Burke fired: Decision by Toronto Maple Leafs’ new suits lacked class: Cox [Toronto Star]
Maple Leafs fire GM Brian Burke [Toronto Star]
Digital Dose: Axe comes down on Burkie [Sportsnet]
New Leafs owners said to dislike Burke from get-go [Globe and Mail]
Brian Burke firing was personal [CBC]

(Images: Damien Cox, Twitter; Joffrey Lupul, Rick Dikeman; Mike Brown, Jana Chytilova/Freestyle/Getty; Dave Nonis, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport; Tom Anselmi, Brian Bahr/Getty Images Sport; Larry Tanenbaum, Raptors)