Not that he has any ambitions, but Brian Burke
jokes that he could have a political future in Toronto -- under the right circumstances.
With his team off to a 3-0-0 start, its best in 11 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs
' general manager quipped during "The NHL Hour with Gary Bettman" that "I could run for mayor right now.
"Of course, if we lose the next three," he added, "I couldn't win as dog catcher."
On a more serious note, Burke told Bettman that despite the good start -- a far cry from last season's 0-7-1 beginning -- he has "more work to do" as he continues to remodel a franchise that hasn't been to the Stanley Cup Final since its last championship in 1967.
Burke served as GM of the Hartford Whalers, Anaheim Ducks
and Vancouver Canucks
before coming to Toronto in 2008. He said his "three pillars of rebuilding" have remained the same no matter where he's worked.
"First, you have to run it like a business," he said. "Second, you have to play an entertaining style. We don't trap. We hit, we try to score. We fight.
"Third, we make our players do more in the community than the next two teams. They've got to give back to the community."
The Leafs haven't been to the playoffs since 2004, and Burke has gone on record saying that a return to the postseason is the team's goal for 2010-11. He didn't back down when Bettman reminded him what he had said.
"That's our goal and that's our intention," he said. "We have the greatest fans in the world, and we have to reward them."
Burke also served as the NHL's chief disciplinarian in the mid-1990s under Bettman between stints as GM with Hartford and Vancouver -- a job now held by Colin Campbell
. Burke scoffed at suggestions that suspensions and other discipline would be better handled by a committee.
"There's one guy in every sport (who handles discipline)," Burke said. "It's a one-man job, and we have the right guy."
Burke also said the role of the general manager in the NHL has changed during the 18 seasons he's been on the job.
"The influence of the general manager has been reduced," he said. "When I started, general managers ruled the world. The League has taken over a lot of the things general managers used to do -- it has added a lot of professional support.
"A GM's influence has diminished, but an NHL general manager is still more powerful than (the GM) in any other sport."