The 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Sean Burke to a two-year contract, Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster announced today. In accordance with club policy, financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Burke, 38, a 16-year NHL veteran who served as the backup goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, has appeared in 762 career games with seven teams, posting a record of 304-321-101 with a goals-against average of 2.96 and 35 shutouts. During his past four NHL seasons, Burke's record is 86-69-28 with a 2.37 goals-against average and 13 shutouts.
"Shortly after the new CBA was announced, Sean Burke was the goaltender we identified as we began formulating contingency plans for how we would proceed if Khabibulin left our team," Feaster said. "We did a lot of homework on Sean, and we believe that not only will he come in and compete with John Grahame and battle for the No. 1 spot, but if he doesn't win that contest he will be a 'team first' player. From all accounts, everyone who knows him calls him an incredible teammate and a true leader within the locker room. He is a perfect fit for our organization."
Originally selected in the second round, 24th overall at the 1985 Entry Draft by New Jersey, Burke joined the Devils late in the 1987-88 season and led the team to Game 7 of the Wales Conference Finals as a rookie. He played three more seasons in New Jersey before a 1992 trade sent him to Hartford, where he spent five seasons before the team moved to Carolina in 1997. After stints in Vancouver, Philadelphia and Florida, Burke landed in Phoenix in 2000 and appeared in 211 games for the Coyotes during the next four-and-a-half seasons before being traded to Philadelphia midway through the 2003-04 season.
Burke enjoyed a career year in 2001-02 with Phoenix, posting a 33-21-6 record and a 2.29 goals-against average and was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy (NHL's outstanding goaltender) and the Lester B. Pearson Award (outstanding player as voted by the players). He also finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting (NHL MVP) and represented Phoenix at his second consecutive NHL All-Star Game. Burke has also played for Canada twice in the Olympic Games, winning a Silver Medal in 1992 in Albertville, France.