Was Toronto Maple Leafs Firing Of GM Brian Burke A Staged Distraction?

By Harry Dole


This may be the last known photo of former Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke prior to being placed into the NHL’s witness protection program.   Tom Szczerbowski – USA TODAY SPORTS


If Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL ever needed to distract disgruntled hockey fans and get them talking about something other than the potentially damaging lockout, now would be the perfect time.  And by some miracle, did Bettman get a doozy of a deflection on Wednesday: the same day the league held a press conference to announce the owners unanimously ratified their collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA.

Aside from informing the public of the obvious ratification, Bettman refused to answer any other significant questions, since the league is trying to stall as much as possible, hoping fans will once again forgive and mostly forget.  When one is a repeat offending abuser, the art of distraction comes in very handy.

The latest Toronto Maple Leafs soap opera began in the middle of Wednesday morning with the media reporting that Leafs General Manager Brian Burke had been terminated.  Of course, no reason was given for the firing, leaving the media and hockey fans to speculate anything from a disagreement over obtaining Vancouver Canucks Goalie Roberto Luongo to Burke’s polarizing personality.  And that was only the beginning of the transparent script.

The Maple Leafs brass then hastily scheduled a press conference at 1:45 p.m to announce Burke’s dismissal. This was two hours and fifteen minutes before the NHL’s dog and pony show of a press conference in New York.  How convenient, huh?

Sticking to the same tired script, the Leafs front office gave no reason for Burke’s dismissal and the hiring of Dave Nonis as his replacement, other than Burke not being a good fit for the new ownership.  Why all the secrecy and vagueness over the firing guys?  What gives?

And by the way, where was Burke during the press conference?  Has he been placed into the NHL’s witness protection program?

Could it be that all this drama was staged to have hockey fans concentrate on Burke’s dismissal and take their minds off Bettman’s unconvincing puppy dog performance later in the afternoon?

Sorry Gary, but your sincere apology for the lockout is not even close to being accepted (regardless if certain controlled mainstream media shills are more than happy with it).  However, your resignation and return to the NBA will be happily accepted and even greatly encouraged.  Besides, doesn’t your good buddy David Stern need a replacement soon to run that circus show?

So the Toronto ownership had seven months to fire Burke and they waited five days before a one week training camp for a shortened season to do the dirty deed?  Since when do calculating brown-nosing corporate types conduct their business on a whim?  Since pigs fly – that’s when.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tom Anselmi said it best when he stated during the press conference, “There’s no good time to do this. Once you get to a decision on something like this, it’s really only fair to act upon it.  You can’t fake it.”

Actually, considering Burke’s termination was done just a few hours before Bettman’s pathetic sad sob act, the timing could not have been more perfect to distract the clueless hockey fanatics and create some much needed buzz for a beleaguered league.

As for not being able to “fake it”, I wholeheartedly agree.  Anselmi and Bettman can use some acting lessons for their next headlining performance.  Thanks for the amateur hour puppet show boys…we can hardly wait for the next one.

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