The best line during Brian Burke’s burial news conference was when MLSE board chairman Tom Anselmi was asked if the new ownership structure had anything to do with it. Anselmi said, ‘hell, everybody in this room pretty much works for Bell or Rogers.’ Good one. Aside from the scribes, everyone in the room did work for Bell or Rogers. I don’t know if he was giving a warning or stating a fact.
Three minutes after the teachers bolted with their sackfuls of cash last August, Burke’s days were numbered. His firing had nothing to do with the Leafs not making the playoffs. Or the Kessel deal or the fact that he couldn’t find a number one goaltender. Burke was gassed because he was a stick of dynamite who would go off at a moment’s notice. That’s it. The Leafs are now run by two media giants who do not like it when one of their employees draws undo attention. Their people should be seen and not heard, unless you’re doing some charity work. And the proof of this is having Dave Nonis replace him--one of Burke’s meek protégés who clearly was uncomfortable at having to replace his friend. And old Brian isn’t going anywhere. He’ll now be a senior advisor to the board who will be released when his contract is up.
What happened yesterday in Toronto was nothing more than an elaborate shell game for PR purposes only. Whenever new ownership takes over, heads usually roll. Brian Burke took it well because he saw it coming.
And so do I.