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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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

            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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

  • 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.