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Hockey Shocker: Toronto Maple Leafs Fire Team President & General Manager Brian Burke
January 9, 2013
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Well, no one saw this coming.

Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs stunned the hockey world by firing president and general manager, Brian Burke.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president Tom Anselmi made the official announcement at a news conference at the Air Canada Centre.

"We've decided to make a leadership change and move in a different direction for the general manager role," said Anselmi. He added that Burke would stay on as a senior advisor.

In a statement released earlier, Anselmi said "Brian will not have direct authority over hockey operations, however this new role will allow our board and I to continue to benefit from his hockey expertise. We want to thank Brian for accepting his new role and staying on with our organization."

At the news conference, Anselmi said there wasn't "one incident or any one thing" that led to Burke's dismissal.

"This was a decision that the board and myself collectively made," Anselmi said. "It's the product of a conversation that has been going on for some time."

Burke was known for his outspoken and brash style. When asked about that, Anselmi said "Brian had a style and we knew what we were getting when he was hired a number of years ago."

"This is really about a change in leadership voice and leadership direction."

Anselmi said he told Burke the news this morning, and that he reacted with class. He said Burke was disappointed but understood this was part of the business.

"Brian, when we were talking this morning, said `I get it, ownership is changing,"' Anselmi said.

MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who's in New York to attend NHL meetings said it was "a decision of the board."

When asked if he had a role in the decision he said "Well, I'm on the board."

The Leafs were officially taken over by new owners Bell and Rogers last August, in a deal worth about $1.3 billion. Anselmi said the operational review began sometime after that.

Leafs Assistant General Manager Dave Nonis - who has a long history of working with Burke - takes over as GM.

"I've worked for Brian for most of my adult life and he's always been a great friend and mentor," Nonis said.

The timing of all this is surprising. Nonis said he didn't see it coming and looked somewhat stunned through the news conference.

And on Sunday, Burke tweeted "I'm thrilled we will be back on the ice. I regret what our fans have had to sit through. We are grateful for their loyalty and patience."

The move comes just days before the NHL season, which is expected to start January 19 with a 48-game season.

The league and its players agreed to a tentative deal over the weekend to end the 113-day lockout. The NHL board of governors ratified the deal today.

Other GM's and friends of Burke arriving in New York for the Board of Governors meeting were stunned.

We've had Burke in the red chair before. Here's his conversation with George.

Burke held the Leafs job for just over four years. The Leafs missed the playoffs since he joined the organization in November 2008.

The Leafs record during that time was 128-135-42. Last season, the Leafs finished 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Anselmi said that played a role in the decision, but ultimately the new ownership group wanted different leadership

Burke, 57, has two years remaining on his contract with Toronto. He's been a GM with the Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, and Anaheim Ducks - where he won a Stanley Cup in 2007.

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