Brian Burke

Leafs fire Brian Burke (!!!); Nonis named replacement


Well, this came out of nowhere.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired their president and general manager, Brian Burke.

The news was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie and confirmed by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

Burke will be replaced by Dave Nonis, formerly the senior vice-president of hockey operations.

A press conference has been scheduled for this afternoon at 1:45 p.m. ET.

Burke, 57, was hired with much fanfare on Nov. 29, 2008. But under his watch, the Leafs failed to qualify for the playoffs in each season.

The team’s parent company, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — which also owns the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC of the MLS — was officially sold to Bell and Rogers in August for $1.07 billion. Whether the change in ownership was a factor in Burke’s dismissal is unclear at this point.

Burke was criticized for a number of moves throughout his tenure, most notably a trade with Boston in September of 2009 that brought Phil Kessel to Toronto for two first-round picks and a second-round pick. The Bruins used the two first-round picks to draft Tyler Seguin second overall in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton ninth overall in 2011.

Burke has also been blamed for failing to address the Leafs’ goaltending situation and failing to land a top-line center.

The Leafs finished 13th in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12. After a promising start, they ended the season 7-18-4, a stretch that saw the the firing of head coach Ron Wilson.


Burke era in Toronto: Trades, truculence and tirades

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.