Brian Burke

Did Burke’s loyalty to the league cost him his job?


Since Brian Burke was fired as Maple Leafs general manager last week, the big question hasn’t been why (there were plenty of reasons there), but why now?

In his post-firing press conference, Burke said he wasn’t provided a “satisfactory explanation” for the timing of the move; however, the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman managed to dig up one possibility through a source.

It sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs new ownership disagreed with Burke’s CBA philosophies — the unwillingness to use bonuses, back-diving contracts and offer sheets among other things. It’s about using your resources to the fullest extent. In the new deal, there are further limitations, but still advantages to being a financial powerhouse (bonuses, for example, were not touched). If this is true, we’re going to see a change in the way Toronto does business.

One major criticism Burke faced in Toronto was that he was more interested in the success of the NHL than his own team.

As Leafs fan Sean McIndoe, aka @DownGoesBrown, put it to PHT: “Whether it’s some sense of duty to the league, or some sort of personal moral code, or just plain old self-promotion, Burke has a tendency to give the impression that he has quite a few priorities beyond doing whatever it takes to win.”

Burke is one of Gary Bettman’s biggest fans, and not afraid to say it. Perhaps the Leafs’ new ownership group, which wasn’t exactly enamored with Burke to begin with, didn’t appreciate his support for a commissioner who just fought for a CBA that restricts the ability of rich franchises to throw their wallets around.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.