CALGARY, AB -- When Brian Burke was watching the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks as a pro scout.
He came away with one conclusion – the Calgary Flames had the best draft of the bunch.
“I was working for Anaheim at the time – I had no dog in this fight – and sitting upstairs watching, I think Calgary had the best draft,” Burke said.
Burke, the Flames President of Hockey Operations, saw his new team draft Sean Monahan with their first pick, and added Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk later in the first round.
He said it repeatedly during the press conference — he loved the selections. As for the talent pool as a whole, he says he sees improvements coming.
“I have seen Abbotsford play, I do think there is help on the way,” Burke said, referring to the Flames AHL affiliate.
When it comes to the rebuild, Burke refuses to put a time frame on it’s completion – he says it just buys the decision-makers extra time – but he as a gameplan as to what the roster will look like.
“I think you need a blueprint when you run a team,” he said. “If you start without a blueprint, you’ll fail.
“My three pillars are simple. We play an entertaining style of hockey, we play a physical brand of hockey, and I think that’s something people in Calgary will appreciate. We are going to stay that course of getting bigger and more physical. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that successful teams are big, we are going to get bigger.”
The second pillar is financial responsibility, Burke said.
“We try to make prudent financial decisions and we try to make sensible decisions. We are in a good position right now in terms of cap space. We have cap space, ownership is prepared to spend to the cap, that is not the issue. The issue is we want to spend the money wisely.”
The final aspect is community service, something he identified as already being in line with ownership beliefs.
“For my teams it’s simple, the players give back and if they don’t, they play somewhere else, it’s really simple.”
Based on the new structure of hockey operations, general manager Jay Feaster will answer to Burke. But Burke feels Feaster already has a good start on the rebuild.
“Jay has made some acquisitions that have already started the rebuild. It’s hard in the cap system to turn your team around, you have unrestricted free agency, but in a cap system, it’s a slower process than it is in a non-cap system.”