Brian Burke had an eventful day. Firing Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod. Naming himself interim general manger. Giving his kids a chance to joke about his mad scientist hair on Twitter.
Here are five things we learned from Burkie today about his job and the direction of the Flames.
1. His Opening Press Conference Was a Sham
Burke said his assignment from ownership, when he was hired, was to take 60 days and evaluate how the current management group had done.
“When I took the job, I told [Ken King] that you can’t evaluate an organization from the outside,” said Burke, in speaking about his decision to fire Feaster. His evaluation included an assessment of Feaster’s transaction history, which Burke felt should have yielded a better bounty.
This is completely not what Burke was selling when he was hired, which was that he and Feaster would be a management team together:
“This is a relatively new structure in professional hockey. There are two teams in the NHL that have this type of management structure. There are a number of teams in the National Football League that do, a number of teams in Major League Baseball that do, and a number of teams in the NBA that do. And it works effectively. And it’s going to work here. This is new for both of us, but I’m determined to make it work and I think it will work.” – Brian Burke, Sept. 7, 2013, on working with “demoted” GM Jay Feaster
We’ll assume he just forgot the rest: “I’m determined to make it work, and by that I mean the handle on the exit door near Jay’s office …”
2. Successful Teams Are Big
As Burke said, “The teams that are successful in our league … one thing they have in common is they’re big.”
So is that true? Mirtle had the weight of NHL teams as of Jan. 2013:
1. San Jose (210.7)
2. Los Angeles (209.7)
3. Washington (208)
4. Winnipeg (207.3)
5. Ottawa (206.8)
6. Tampa Bay (206.2)
7. New York Rangers (206.1)
8. Colorado Avalanche (205.9)
9. St. Louis Blues (205.8)
10. Nashville Predators (205.4)
Well, we’re got some playoff teams, at least one conference finalist and one defending Stanley Cup champion in that mix from the 2013 season. Along with four non-playoff teams in the top 10.
What about the Cup finalists?
20. Chicago Blackhawks (203.0)
26. Boston Bruins (200.0)
By no means does this disprove Burke’s assertion, mind you. It’s merely a snapshot. In 2012, the No. 3 and the No. 5 weightiest teams played for the Cup.
3. Burke Doesn’t Like Flag Football
In case you were wondering if the Calgary Flames would one day resemble the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs in their truculence, pugnacity and all those other charming Burke buzzwords for “toughness,” they will.
Said Burke on Thursday: “We need to play black and blue hockey. I want a little more hostility than I’m seeing out there right now.”
Said Burke in 2008 about the Leafs: “We require, as a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. That’s how our teams play,” Our teams play a North American game. We’re throwbacks. It’s black-and-blue hockey. It’s going to be more physical hockey here than people are used to.”
They could have just cued up the YouTube video and hit play.
4. Burke’s Guy Might Also Be Buffalo’s Guy
Burke said that the timing of this was due to the internal schedule that was set between him and ownership. But Burke also indicated that there being another team searching for a GM – the Buffalo Sabres – influenced the timing.
So does that mean Jim Benning of the Boston Bruins? Does that mean Claude Loiselle, a Burke guy from his Leafs days?
One thought on the Flames getting permission to speak with Joe Nieuwendyk: Burke said he wanted to dispel any notion that he was going to keep the GM job. Was this public – leaked to Darren Dreger – request for permission just a way to end that talk, or is Nieuwendyk potentially his guy?
5. Finally, Combs Are For Idiots
That is a magnificent coif, sir.