The Brian Burke era is ending in Calgary. The Flames organization has announced in a press release that Burke, president of hockey operations for the hockey club since September 2013, will be leaving the organization on May 1.
Burke was hands-on early for a couple reasons. After an initial review of the hockey operations department, he assumed the role of interim general manager following his firing of Jay Feaster in December 2013. Burke served in that role until he hired Brad Treliving for the full-time GM role in April 2014, then served as a mentor and sounding board for Treliving for a period until the new GM got his sea legs and Burke settled into more of an advisory role.
Burke’s 2013 hiring lent the Flames a bit of hockey operations credibility at a time where it was, frankly, sorely lacking. Feaster’s time as GM saw a few gaffes and blunders – remember almost losing Ryan O’Reilly and two high draft picks due to CBA confusion? – but Burke’s arrival sent a message to the market that things were going to be done differently from then on. And then things actually were done differently, which helped ease the transition to the Treliving regime.
In a statement, Flames president and CEO Ken King thanked Burke for his time with the club:
When Brian came to us in September 2013 we discussed a structure and timeline of four to five years for his new role. Each year we review our mandate going forward and determined together that we would move on. Brian’s leadership and guidance of our hockey operations and work with General Manager Brad Treliving have been exemplary and we are grateful for his contributions. His charity work and organizational representation in our community are legendary as he has touched so many with his generosity.
With Burke’s departure, it seems logical to presume that vice-president of hockey operations Don Maloney will assume his advisory role – regardless of whether Maloney’s title ends up changing.
Burke was always a fun person to bump into in the Saddledome hallways, always wanting to talk about the latest news in hockey or his most recent charitable endeavour. He leaves a lasting legacy with the Flames. I just wish he’d learn to tie a damned tie.