Brian Burke says he was shocked by the news that he would no longer be general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I was floored, and I still am stunned. I’ve never been fired before,” Burke said in an exclusive interview with Damien Cox of the Toronto Star . “How am I doing? I’m doing okay.”
Burke was fired by Maple Leafs ownership on Wednesday with the less than two weeks to go before the start of the shortened NHL season. The 57-year-old Providence, R.I., native was hired by the franchise in November 2008 with the promise of bringing truculence, belligerence and pugnacity to the team, but the Maple Leafs failed to make the playoffs in nearly four full seasons under his reign and haven’t made a post-season appearance since 2003-04.
Watch Brian Burke’s press conference live on Sportsnet and Sportsnet.ca Saturday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT
On Wednesday, Burke was en route to the airport to go to New York for the NHL Board of Governors meeting, but was called into the team offices at the Air Canada Centre where he was given the news.
In the interview, Burke said the first thing he did when he was fired was inform his older children and go pick up his two youngest daughters from school, so they wouldn’t hear the news through a secondary source.
“I called the older kids on the way, but I wanted the little ones to hear it from me first,” Burke told the paper. “They were OK. They just wanted to know if we’d have to move again. I said no.”
Although Burke was relieved of his GM duties he will stay on with the Leafs as an advisor to his replacement Dave Nonis, who also replaced him when he left the Vancouver Canucks in 2004.
“I think I can help,” Burke said. “I’ve been at this for a while. I have my name on the Stanley Cup. I’ll do whatever I can. I wish Dave and the Toronto Maple Leafs all the success in the world. I’ll do my best to help them win.”
Burke added: “I’m so grateful I had a chance to run the crown jewel franchise of the NHL. I’m grateful to have been given the chance to live in Toronto. I love this city and I am grateful for the support of the fans.”
The article also states that Burke had one of his car windows smashed on Friday morning.
“I don’t know if it was a disgruntled fan or not,” Burke said. “But they didn’t steal anything.”