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.

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.

  • Alberta Ice

    Hope Flames find the right replacement. Reading Maple Leaf fan comments about Burke these past five years were not pleasant. Was not a fan of his after his sending Sven packing and on to Vancouver. (And really sour over losing Paul Byron on the waiver line to the Canadiens.)

  • Parallex


    Never should have been hired in the first place. Of all the things you can reasonably attribute to him there was one good decision and a whole lot of fail.

    • Hockeysense9393

      He was hired to right a ship that was obviously rudderless. He did that. He was hired as top gun for hockey operations and that was wholly his job. He gave the Flames back some credibility within the eyes of the league. No matter what people say about him…he is still a very respected member of the hockey community, and that was the point. Rumours are rumours about him having a heavy hand on actual team personnel decisions and I’m sure some of that is true; but he also did his job in the scope of things. Now we’ll see if BT gets full control of “his” team direction moving forward…or even if Burke was really a “fall guy” in this scenario. “My job is done here” as it may go… If the rumour is true about Malone? That may be better for a 2 headed snake mentality for this team moving forward?

  • Hockeysense9393

    There is a future expansion team in the horizon… Maybe already talking with Seattle owners to head up their hockey operations? That’s one thing he has never experienced and may be a challenge that suits him.

    • Hockeysense9393

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. Burke has done so many different things through the years…but has never had the chance to head up a new franchise from bottom up. This would be a great opportunity to solidify his name into hockey lore? I hope he gets this chance…

  • Joeyhere

    Leaving May 1 means three business days notice, pretty clear he was fired (he’s not retiring ) vs the “mutual” decision line. And that’s just fine – needed him in 2013 and his charity work and hockey passion is exemplary but the best before date has expired. Good luck Brian but it’s time this team moved on.

    • Walt Whitman

      Not necessarily. Without revealing my own identity, one of my former companies sent out a PR about my departure only 1 week prior to my final day even though I had tendered my letter of resignation two months earlier and spent the final two months in developing transitional guidelines (and interviewing my eventual successor). The reason we decided to announce this to the public so far after the internal announcement was purely intended to keep our investors (in the case of the Flames, their fans or media pundits) relatively calm and not having two months of conjecture regarding the company’s future. They’re doing just fine since I’ve left, by the way.

  • Raffydog

    So the next stupid trade or free agent signing that Treliving makes will be Ken Kings fault now. Quickly running out of people to blame for Trelivings mismanagement of the roster.

      • RegHen

        KevinR the original mullet man from the 80’s has my vote. As city council starts to talk about a new arena again it was time for Brian “the savior” Burke to go. We don’t need him flapping his gums making things worse. Kev if you wear a tie don’t do the Burkie wrap over your shoulders. The Nensh will think it’s the same old same old. And while you’re there send King back to The Sun.

  • Boundsy

    Probably a year too late, but the Flames are making strides to make change and ultimately, be better. I am curious as to who will be filling the empty role. I read somewhere that someone was saying Don Maloney. I hope this is false. I would like to see the Flames go for an ex Fla.e lime Lanny, or Tim Hunter.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Is this the right time and right spot for Iggy? I’d prefer to see him as the prez, but dislodging Kinger is gonna take at least a truckload of dynamite and a couple of those massive oilfield cranes.

  • freethe flames

    I did not like the hire when it occurred b/c I believed the style of hockey he wanted the Flames to play was outdated. Think of the players he helped Tre trade for our sign; Bolig for sure and likely Brouwer. Moved the Flames away from speed to ????. The good thing he did was get the Flames in Stockton. Great humanitarian I will give you that but for being the guy in charge of hockey operations the team made the playoffs twice in 5 years and he missed the boat on the direction of the NHL and interferred in setting the agenda early in Tre’s tenure. Now Tre needs to show use what his vision for the team is. His job is on the line. Good luck to BB but I’m glad he has moved on.

  • Who is Alberta’s team?

    It was common knowledge that he had full control over all trades. They may as well re introduce treliving cause maybe now he’ll get to GM on his own. Imagine when King asked “well who’s decision was it to trade away all our picks for career minor leaguers in Lazar and stone. Even more picks given away to grumpy grandpa Smith and the best one of all. The Hamonic debacle?”

    Tre probably said “wasn’t me” Lol

  • FLT

    Good insight Pike. I didn’t know the org was such a mess from a hockey ops perspective under Feaster, but in hindsight that makes sense. His input on player evaluation and roster construction likely won’t be missed, but he’s done a good job setting up a management structure for future success.

    My only personal regret is that more sonic the hedgehog references weren’t made.

    • FLT

      Also worth mentioning is the amount of charity work he did personally, and the amount he pushed for from the players and rest of the organization. His support of the LGBTQ community was a particular passion. Leadership like that has a lasting impact and is more important than his impact on the Flames. Good on him for it.

    • Joeyhere

      I’ll never forget Feaster’s press conference when it was a reporter who pointed out to him that due to CBA rules the Flames woudl have lost two draft picks. Feaster just blinked looked stunned and later said he knew it all along. Or when Feaster would try to motivate the team by doing a clown dance in the dressing room. We needed Burke to add some credibility and accountability back on 2013. Hopefully with Burke gone now we take another step forward and for Calgary to start seeing elite sports management for a change ( I can hope can’t I ?)

    • buts

      Funny how so many people compliment Burke on all his charity work with the flames then when arena talks come up Nenshi and many commenters say the flames owners are greedy and where’s the public benefit from the team.

  • BitGeek

    “I just wish he’d learn to tie a damned tie.”

    And yet…. you picked a photo where his tie is actually knotted around his collar. Love the irony there Ryan. 😉

  • oddclod

    Rumour. Flames sold/selling to a Houston group. City councillors a buzz. Nenshi a tar/feather candidate. Friend of a friend but FN clout if I’m right you heard it from ODDY – @oddclod instagram

    • McRib

      The Houston Rockets were one of the best teams in basketball this year and they finished 16th in attendance. The Astros were one of the most exciting teams in MLB history a team filled with .300+ hittters and they didn’t even crack the Top. 14 in attendance on the way to a World Series. You’re telling me the Flames are going to leave a Canadian market like Calgary were Hockey is King, to go to a bad sports city in the sourthern US that couldn’t even support an AHL franchise? Hahahah.

        • oddclod

          My opinion to the rumour (if it’s true) is it fits with King’s recent shift in the arena negotiation. Aka there is no negotiation. Use your head. What you’re saying is obvious. Why would the nhl move from Calgary? Well yeah. These executives are smart. They tried to get their arena deal the straight forward way now what? Katz was seen in Seattle, then next thing you know he got the deal. If this is true it makes sense city councillors are shuffling about.

          • Kevin R

            AS much as I despise & hate that lying backstabbing Nenshi to the core, he’s not dumb. But he is wrong & the Flames are wrong & we’re going to probably find out the hard way two wrongs don’t equal a right. The web you are spinning, if true, & given the Nenshi factor may roll out to seeing Flames move to Houston or somewhere. Meantime, Nenshi continues his Olympic bid push & Victoria Park revitalization. Then we see a new arena built, on tax dollars via City & Federal & Provincial Governments, but it’s still tax dollars . Hopefully after 8 or so years after we have no professional hockey & not a heck of a lot of need for Calgarians to venture to downtown & all that big dollar Victoria Park revitalization, the new mayor (ABN anybody but Nenshi) realizes the economic value of a professional hockey team bringing 18-20000 people to the downtown 50+ something times a year, creating economy for C-Trains, restaurants, bars/pubs, Casinos & merchants. Like the Winnipeg Jets, we will finally get our hockey team back.
            Not sure why it has to go this way & certainly not the economy for this. It’s more of a time both sides treat as an investment that will reap benefits for everyone in the future.

    • oddclod

      Timing it gained traction? Bettman’s visit. Recalling his dissatisfaction with yyc revenue / building it makes me wonder. The guy is a squid. LV is a fiasco. Thankfully we didn’t lose a Marshessalt (sp) Karlsson

      • The Doctor

        Yeah what a shock. You set up the most outrageously favourable expansion draft in the history of pro sports and lo and behold, the expansion team ends up being really good.