R. Jeanette Martin
Brian Burke at the 2011 Pride Parade.
Twitter lit up earlier today at the news that Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke had been removed from his post. Dave Nonis, former Vancouver Canucks GM who came to Toronto as senior vice president of hockey operations in 2008, has been appointed as his replacement.
Part of the shock had to do with the ostensibly inopportune timing, with the Leafs just 10 days away from a season that has been substantially shortened by the recently resoloved lockout. In a press conference held at 1:45 pm, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment executive VP and COO Tom Anselmi stated that despite the abridged regular season, he and the board of directors felt impelled to institute a change in management.
"There's no good time to do this," Anselmi said, sitting beside Nonis in the Air Canada Centre's Rogers Media Centre, knocking back teeny-tiny bottles of Dasani-brand water. "Once you get to a decision on something like this, it's really only fair to act upon it...It just made sense to get ready and deal with this as soon as possible."
Anselmi gave no one specific reason for the decision. "Did four years of missing the playoffs factor into the conversation? Of course it did," he said. "At the end of the day, it was really about looking for a different voice, and a different leadership approach."
Noonis, who said he attended a Toronto Marlies game with Burke last night, knew nothing of the decision until earlier this morning. "I've worked for Brian for most of my adult life," he said. "He's always been a great friend and mentor."
Among the management-speak about "green lights" and "windows" and "going forward," Nonis stressed that he had no great plans for a massive turnover in players, and refused to discuss pending trades, though Anselmi mentioned that the Leafs are expecting "some good news" at 4 pm today.
Burke, who is also well known in Toronto as a high profile gay rights supporter, will still be affiliated with the Leafs as a "senior adviser."