AnaheimDucks.com Upon hearing the news early Wednesday morning that Brian Burke was stepping down from his position as Anaheim’s Executive VP and GM, the Ducks were left in a bit of shock even though they knew full-well before the season that the scenario was a possibility.
Prior to the season starting, Burke addressed the team in training camp and discussed the situation he was weighing, whether to sign an extension with the Ducks or pursue other ventures closer to his family.
“He really let us know what he was going through, the decision he had to make and what was important to him,” Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said after Wednesday’s practice. I think we have a pretty good understanding of how everything has played out.”
As the players worked out and watched the major announcement scroll by on television news crawls, the fact that Burke, the man responsible for many of them being in Anaheim, was leaving instantly became a reality.
“We’re disappointed to see him go,” Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “We’re losing a great GM and a good person. He’s a guy that is really honest and straightforward. Whether you like it or not, he’s going to tell you anyway. It’s sad to see him go, but it’s what is best for his family. I think he would respect that type of decision if it would be coming from us.”
In his three-plus seasons in Anaheim, Burke transformed the Ducks into an annual contender and a Stanley Cup Champion. While he will stay on for an unspecified time as a Special Consultant, his work as VP and GM will always resonate with the players.
“What he has done for this organization is unbelievable,” Teemu Selanne said. “Brian Burke is a player’s GM. That is why everybody wants to play for Brian. It’s a dream come true as a player because he is ready to do whatever it takes to make the player happy. Of course we thank him for what he has done and wish him luck in the future.”
Once drafted by Burke (then with Hartford) as the No. 2 overall selection in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Chris Pronger is grateful their hockey careers met up once again in Anaheim.
“I never really got to play for him there and was fortunate enough to finally have the opportunity here,” Pronger said. “I had two-and-a-half great years with him. It’s been a lot of fun working for him and we certainly wish him all the best.”
While there was a definite somber feeling among the players in seeing Burke step away, there was also a united feeling of happiness in seeing Bob Murray selected as the replacement.
The Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Ducks the last four seasons, Murray has been Burke’s wingman in decisions. Many of the players feel that the transition from Burke to Murray, a former NHL All-Star defenseman who logged 15 years in the league with Chicago, will be a smooth one.
“Bob Murray has been Brian’s right-hand man for several years,” Selanne said. “I don’t think anything is going to change much. Bob really deserves this chance with what he has done. I think the whole team is excited that Bob is the next guy.”
The events of Wednesday may have brought more questions and cameras to Honda Center for a day, but the focus of the Ducks is not shaken. Their attention remains on the ice, where they will open the Bob Murray era on Friday against Nashville.
“I don’t think things are unsettled,” Giguere said. “We’re doing our business as usual. It’s Bob Murray’s team and we’re going to have to lead by his rule.”
Said Selanne, “In some ways it’s going to help the team too. We can move on from this issue and go from there. We know how good we can play. We just have to do it on the ice. For sure, we can do better than the last two games. That is our goal right now.”