While Brian Burke continues to serve as ”acting” general manager to go along with his regular duties as President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames, the time has come for Flames’ ownership, and Burke himself, to step up and officially add the GM title to his business card.
Controversy has, arguably, surrounded Burke while at the helm of making personnel decisions. In 2009, while serving as the Toronto Maple Leafs President and GM, Burke acquired Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins in exchange for two first-round picks as well as a second rounder. Those picks ended up being Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight. There is no question that Boston was happy with the return. That being said, Kessel is, without a shadow of a doubt, the Leafs’ biggest offensive threat. He is one of the most pure goal scorers in the NHL. He has since been locked into a contract by Burke’s successor, Dave Nonis, that keeps him in Toronto through the 2021-22 season. Kessel arrived as a 22 year old, and this contract will take him through his 34th birthday. His entire prime could be spent in the blue and white of Toronto. Not bad!
Burke first rose to prominence as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks. While in Vancouver, he drafted Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, as well as Ryan Kesler. The Canucks peaked in 2010-11, as they won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s top regular season team and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Bruins in seven games. While Burke was no longer with the team at that point, the Sedin twins and Kesler were, and still are, instrumental to the success of the Canucks.
Sandwiched between his stints in Vancouver and Toronto, Burke spent four years in California as GM of the Anaheim Ducks. His most recognizable feat will surely be helping guide the Ducks to a Stanley Cup triumph in the 2006-07 season. Burke also had a successful draft record in Anaheim, highlighted by Bobby Ryan, whom Burke chose with the second overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Ryan had four straight 30+ goal seasons in Anaheim, his only four full seasons playing for the Ducks before being dealt to the Ottawa Senators in the post-Burke era.
As Calgary moves forward in an effort to return to the playoffs and, hopefully Stanley Cup contention, having Burke fill the GM role on a full time basis will prove vital in helping this happen sooner rather than later. Burke has never shied away from making the big trade, and has proven that he has a keen eye for talent in the draft.
Burke as the GM is exactly what the Flames organization needs.