In what can only be described as a flabbergastingly shocking move, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired Brian Burke as their General Manager. Go ahead, try to describe it as anything else. I’ll wait.
What’s truly bizarre is that they waited this long to make the move, firing Burke after he played an instrumental role representing the Leafs in the CBA negotiations and just before training camp is set to open. If Leafs ownership were unhappy with the results from the past few seasons (and why wouldn’t they be), then why allow Burke to work through the free agency period, putting his stamp on the team for another season?
Unless, and this is pure, rampant speculation: this has something to do with Roberto Luongo?
The rumour mill has been churning ever since the Canucks were knocked out of the playoffs last season that were Luongo to be traded, the Maple Leafs would be a potential destination. Since then, anonymous “insiders” and mainstream media members alike have fallen all over themselves to confirm that Luongo is definitely heading to the Leafs, with varying degrees of believability.
One of the things that might have held up a trade, other than that pesky lockout, is the relationship between Brian Burke and Mike Gillis, which can charitably be called “strained.” Even if their personalities didn’t clash, their view of Luongo’s trade value might have. Gillis still seems to believe that he’s negotiating from a position of strength: the Leafs need goaltending and Gillis has worked very hard to give off the impression that he doesn’t need to trade Luongo.
Burke, on the other hand, likely thinks that Gillis is desperate to move Luongo and will take anything back in a trade, such as Tyler Bozak or a bag of pucks.
Is it possible that Leafs ownership was a little more insistent that Burke acquire Luongo, paying whatever cost was necessary? Maybe. It’s hard to say. But the timing is more than a little odd.
With such little time to go before the start of training camp and the regular season, it’s possible that Dave Nonis, Burke’s right hand man, will step up to serve as interim General Manager. And it’s not like he has a history of trading for Roberto Luongo or anything.
Again, this is all speculation, but something as bizarre as this requires it.Tags: rampant speculation