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
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.
The New York Rangers got a big divisional win on Saturday afternoon, but it came at a price.
Captain Ryan McDonagh was knocked out of the game after he took a sucker-punch from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
McDonagh wasn’t innocent here. He delivered a cross-check to Simmonds’ head moments before the punch.
To watch the entire sequence, click here.
Getting back to the game…
With the Flyers leading 2-1 in the dying moments of the game, defenseman Keith Yandle beat Steve Mason to force overtime.
Philadelphia’s struggles continued in the shootout.
They missed on both their attempts (Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux) while the Rangers converted on both their attempts (Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan).
After the game, both sides addressed the Simmonds/McDonagh incident.
It’ll be interesting to see how the NHL’s Department of Player Safety handles this situation. Both McDonagh and Simmonds are at fault here, but Simmonds’ action caused an injury.
The shootout loss puts an end to Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak. The Flyers are three points behind the Red Wings for the final Wild Card spot in the East.