Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/5of7

Brian Burke to depart Flames organization on May 1

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.

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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.

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  • buts

    Love his quotes and candid honesty. Just didn’t see any truculence in this team…..a bit under Hartley/Burke but in the last 3 years the team has been very soft in it’s overall play, especially these last 2 years. Off the subject I got trashed for saying LVK were a very well coached team in December….did you see how they played last night after a 9 day layoff compared to how Calgary played after a 5 day winter break….very impressive 5 on 5 and PP/PK. That my friends is called good coaching.

    • Schmenkley

      Following on Jobu’s “in all fairness” theme, a nine day lay off while you prepare for the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs will allow for a LOT MORE focus from the team than a five day break in the dog days of winter, where the majority of the boys are laying on beaches somewhere feeling good about themselves and their recent string of success.

  • The GREAT WW

    Say what you want about Burke as POHO, but full credit to Burke for his generosity (both in money and time) supporting various charities around town.

    You will be missed at the Cowboys annual Stampede charity poker tournament, Burke!!!!!!


  • Glensfunnyface

    Former Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan is in talks with multiple teams regarding an assistant/associate coaching job and the Edmonton Oilers are believed to be among them. DO IT EDMONTON!

  • Cheeky

    All the best Burke. Fully agree with the article regarding his hiring. It is time for him to move on and I wish him well. Now it’s on BT for this team, no more excuses by us fans guessing Burke influenced this trade and that…

    • McRib

      Exactly, now we really get to see the real Treliving. I question signings like Troy Brouwer and trades like Travis Hamonic (mostly just for the price paid) and they always point to a Brian Burke’s influence. Well now we will know what Treliving is fully capable of (or not). One thing is for certain the 2014 Draft disaster was clearly mostly Burke, Treliving was just hired and Burke was preaching Truculence, but it will be very interesting to see what else was Burke or not.

  • The GREAT WW

    Looks like Burke is the fall guy for “going all in” and trading away our unprotected first round pick with a terrible coach.

    The timing is perfect….


  • Jimmyhaggis

    A good hire at the time, BT is on is own now, and I’m sure that was the plan from the beginning. I agree, King seems to be the one holding up a new arena deal.

  • Mickey O

    Glad that Pike mention Ryan O’Reilly in this article as it gives this upcoming long post a tie-in. Been giving myself a crash course on Bill Peters recently, reading between the lines and what he says and doesn’t say. A few posters here have brought up Ryan O’ Reilly’s name as possible trade bait. Every team is enamoured with possibly getting Tavares, but RoR is definitely a name the Flames should be considering, and I’ll bet they are looking hard at acquiring him. There is no way that O’Reilly can stick around in Buffalo after his comments to reporters in April. He basically called out the organization for fostering, and being okay with, a loser attitude. He also said it is no fun playing when you know that you’re out of it by Christmas. Jack Eichel basically said the same thing, but he isn’t going anywhere. Buffalo is a mess.

    Peters remarked that he wants another centreman. That’s a bit of a bizzare statement because the Flames seem to be okay there. Rebar also says he hates lazy penalties. Checking RoR’s stats he’s had the grand total of 42 PM’s in the last SIX YEARS, and that includes two international stints. He was tagged with a single minor last year, that was it. Peters is also a big believer in winning face-offs as that is you first 50/50 battle of a shift. Ryan O’Reilly is amazing there as well, he led the league last year at 60% and took more face-offs than anyone in the league.

    Looking at O’Reilly career so far. Great junior season and gets drafted 33rd by Colorado, a team which sucked at the time. Then he gets traded out of the frying pan to the dumpster fire in Buffalo. He’s a great player, and he sees his career going nowhere. At 27, he’s hitting his prime. He can play any forward position and it looks like he plays the right side on the powerplay. Yeah, but he’s left handed, you might say and the team needs a RHS winger. That “problem” is partially offset by how good he is winning face-offs anywhere on the ice.

    He’s on a monster overpay of a contract at $7.5M a season for another 5 years, which in a way is a good thing. Buffalo needs to move him due to his comments, and to get out from under that contract. O’Reilly has played for Peters before at the 2016 Worlds. He’ll have him again at this year’s tournament. O’Reilly is Peter’s kind of people. Big, fast, plays smart, has a great release and brings a lot of intangibles to the table.

    As for what Buffalo would want back, Adam Fox would likely be one ask as he’s a New York kid. But Buffalo is going to be in scramble mode to move on from O’Reilly. Get the Sabres to partially eat some of his salary to get it below Treliving’s artificial internal cap of $6.75 million. As for where he’d actually play with the Flames that’s a great problem to have. Monahan or Jankowski could move to wing. They could play O’Reilly on the wing and have Backlund – Frolik (who Peters gushes about) as your stud shutdown pairing on the 3rd line.

    The more I think about it, there is a lot to like about any potential trade with Buffalo for Ryan O’Reilly. The Flames have NHL players and good prospects, and want to change the culture. A big contract would have to go back the other way, and Brodie makes sense. Brouwer, stop it, my ticker couldn’t take it. It is time to cash in for quality over quantity from the Flames end. Two or three pieces going the other way for a game changer who is hungry to reset his career.

      • freethe flames

        Playing for a guy at the WC is not the same as playing for a guy during an entire season. If you can get him TJ and Buffalo paying @1m of the salary you can make the caseof keeping the internal salary cap in place. Then go with Johnny/Monny/Ferland, Janko/RoR/Tkachuk, Bennett/Backs/Frolik.

    • Boundsy

      So..by you having the Flames acquire O’Reilly the top 9 would be along the lines of

      Gaudreau Monahan Bennett
      Tkchuck O’Reilly Mango/Foo
      Janko Backlund Frolik
      That isnt bad at all as long as Mango or Foo are able to step in. If not Ferland is still available to bump Janko up a line and play on the third. That is a killer top 3 centers.

      • Mickey O

        Not totally convinced that Monahan is an elite 1C yet on a very good team. His best attribute is getting open for Johnny to get him the puck; he can do that playing wing. But he’s still young and hasn’t come close to hitting his prime. O’Reilly is a perfect 2C on an elite team, but could be a 1C.

        Gaudreau – O’Reilly – Monahan
        Bennett – Jankowski – Tkachuk
        Frolik – Backlund – Ferland
        Mangiapane – Shore – Foo
        Lazar x

        Giordano – Hamilton
        Valimaki – Hamonic
        Kulak – Andersson


        That might be one way to go. But O’Reilly gives you lots of options to mix and match players up and down the roster. It keeps the Gaudreau – Monahan and Frolik – Backlund pairs together. All lines have multiple players who can take face-offs. Then again it all blows up if the goaltending doesn’t bounce back.

        • Afterburn

          I like it. ROR would be a good addition and I like case you put together for why. I still think more needs to be done. More team toughness required. Beagle or Wilson out of Washington somehow.

      • McRib

        “Peters remarked…he hates lazy penalties.”

        Yikes, so we can expect Sam Bennett to be shipped out in no time, maybe Dougie Hamilton as well. Hahah.

        Everything I hear from Peters sounds like Hartley, GG 3.0. I just hope he isn’t as dumb as GG with putting players in the doghouse and not playing someone like Dougie Hamilton on the PP (despite being one of the leagues best PP Defenders).

        • Mickey O

          Bennett, Hamilton, and throw in Backlund took some doozies last year in the lazy penalty department. Carolina was the least penalized team last year, and gave up the fewest amount of shots. But their goaltending has blown chunks for years and have had to construct a roster with a minus 15M set of handcuffs on.


          About the 15 minute mark.

          • Mickey O

            …and Peters knowing Huska (another WW favourite) forever. That’s huge. “Be honest with me, tell me what a guy can and cannot do. Don’t stick him in a position where he can’t succeed”, or words to that effect.

            He’s big on nicknames too. That was another screw-up of GG, he called Rittich, “Ritty” a couple of times in an interview. Someone clued him in and GG was calling him “Ritter” the next day. It might seem like a small detail, but it isn’t. If you can’t get a guy’s nickname right, how friggin’ dialed in are you to your players?

            By my count, there’s no way the players respected Gulutzan, but Peters commands respect before he even says anything. Charisma, daddio, charisma.

          • Mickey O

            According to CapFriendly, Treliving gave Backlund a full NTC for the first 3 years. But even as a 3C you could argue that $5.35M a year isn’t that drastic of an overpay – it is the extra year or two that’s potentially going to be an issue. Highly doubt BT would be into trading Backlund even if he could.

            But Buffalo basically has to move O’Reilly. An assistant captain that says something like that isn’t going to be around long, even though what he said is true. With Rebar coaching again at the World Championships we’ll get to see how he utilizes his players, particularly Mr. Ryan O’Reilly.

          • Kevin R

            I also think Flames could use that bonafide top 2 centre & O’Rielly certainly checks a lot of boxes for us. The real irony of all this would be we just about lost Monahan because of that RoR offer sheet. Wouldn’t that be something if we could roll out RoR, Monahan & Backlund as our top 3 centres.

            Peter’s also mentioned about preferring to have pairs. Obvious Backlund-Frolik as one pair & Gaudreau-Monahan as the other. How sweet would it be to have ROR-Byng as the other pairing.
            I really would like to see Bennett stay here for 1 more year under a new coach but I think he would have to be the return going back. But the need a minute muncher like Brodie & possibly Ferland could get a ROR with some salary retained & maybe a 2nd round pick from Buff. I really like this & if we are to try & create more offence out of our top 9, Centre is where you start & one with a guy that can win friggin face-offs.

          • Mickey O

            Bennett and Jankowski look to be the next pairing to me. Gulutzan kept them together all year after Janko was called up, with a motley crew on the right side. I said that Janko has centre written all over him even last summer, and Bennett needs to go to the wing. Byng’s hockey IQ is so huge he could play with anyone, but that MSM line (Sam – Mark – Matthew) looked really good in the very limited time they were together.

            Every GM in the league knows that Buffalo have to dump O’Reilly, and with that huge contract the Sabres are not going to get a premium haul for him. I think any team that gets ROR won’t necessarily have to give away the farm to get him.

            And yes, it would end up being pretty damn ironic if O’Reilly and Monahan somehow ended up on the same team. That seems strangely fitting somehow.

  • RKD

    Finally some real change the coaching change was inevitable however this is what we talked about. The accountability starts at the top, while BT is the GM, Burke had the final say on all hockey decisions like signing Troy Brouwer.

  • TheWheeze

    Hopefully King is next. In an ideal world, where all is true and just, we can all sit and hope Murray Edwards realizes things have got to change and he is cleaning house. I think King is too embedded in the Boys Club though.