It didn’t take very long for former Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke to land a new job.
Less than one year after he was unceremoniously fired in Toronto, Burke accepted a new position as president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames today. The position itself is new and represents part of the Flames’ belated efforts to rebuild their broken franchise.
Burke took center stage at today’s media announcement alongside John Bean, who was promoted to chief operating officer of the club, and Jay Feaster, who remains the team’s general manager.
While there was no official change in Feaster’s role, he’ll be reporting directly to Burke now. There’s some concern whether Burke will actually take a backseat to Feaster, but it should be remembered that Burke worked quite well with a large ensemble of suits in Toronto. (One of those suits, Dave Nonis, eventually replaced Burke as the team’s general manager.)
This issue was addressed by Burke himself at the outset of today’s new conference: “I am not the general manager of the Calgary Flames – Jay Feaster is.”
Aside from the obligatory show of humility, Burke spent little time returning to his usual verbosity, promising that a bigger and tougher team will eventually take shape in Calgary (sound familiar?). It appears that Burke’s basic blueprint for success will remain the same: start by addressing the situation in net, add size to the defence, then improve your forwards.
Feaster and Burke have permission to spend at the salary cap limit, but they’ll be pressured to show value for every dollar spent – a reality acknowledged by Burke. This means he’ll no longer be able to sign the Mike Komisareks and Brett Lebdas of the world free of constraints.
Based on his performance in Toronto, Burke will be able to turn things around in Calgary if he’s given the time and freedom needed for success. After all, Burke is responsible for bringing Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson to Toronto – the apparent core of the team for the next several years.
The one luxury Burke never enjoyed in Toronto was patience. His often grandiose but baseless statements about the state of the team eventually turned the fanbase and ownership group against him. Fortunately, a quieter hockey market in Calgary should give him more leeway to operate and speak without consequence.
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