For the first time in three-plus seasons, Brian Burke
will not take his normal seat inside Honda Center in Anaheim when the Ducks host Nashville on Friday.
The man that helped bring a Stanley Cup to Anaheim in 2007 made that official Wednesday when he decided to step down from his post as executive vice president and general manager. Burke cited family reasons.
The 53-year-old Burke, whose teams have won 6-of-8 playoff series, will remain with the team as a special consultant for new GM Bob Murray
. Murray previously served as Burke's right-hand man as the senior vice president of hockey operations.
"Resigning from my post with the Ducks was the toughest decision that I ever had to make in my life," Burke said. "I'm not saying goodbye today and I'll give you a longer, sappier speech sometime in the future, but, right now, I work for Bob Murray
until I sort things out.
"We agreed that Murray was the guy to take the job and, while there were other qualified people on the staff, Murray has been my right-hand man and involved in every decision. I started this whole thing and if we're going to make the transition, why not do it now. I think this makes sense; if (Murray's) going to drive this bus, why not give him the keys now.
"I've been wrestling with this decision on what to do next, career-wise, based on some family factors," Burke said. "I want to make it known that I had no issues with my job. I have children that I don't see very much anymore and I told (CEO) Mike Schulman on Nov. 1 that it was not my intention to sign a contract extension. It was my decision that held this process up."
Burke has four children on the East Coast from a previous marriage and travels back to see them two weekends a month. It's something he has done since his days as president and GM in Vancouver in 1998.
"The Ducks have been absolutely marvelous people to work for," Burke said. "I support everything that is happening here and I look forward to continuing good things with the Ducks. Right now, I need to sort things out because, really, I don't know what's next."
Burke admitted he, Anaheim owners Henry and Susan Samueli and Schulman reached the decision during the past 48 hours.
"I think the organization did a pretty exemplary job of holding off on the news until (Wednesday) morning," Burke said. "Mike (Schulman) told me that at some point he would file a document with the NHL Commissioner (Gary Bettman), giving me permission to seek a position with another team. He indicated that time frame would be a week or thereabouts and I won't press on that."
Burke said he will do whatever it takes to make the transition as seamless as possible for Murray.
"People who are leaving a job tend to want to leave a monument, talking about what a great team they left," Burke said. "Then, the guy coming in wants to point out all the holes in the hull. But we've done evaluations and feel we have as good a defense as anyone on the NHL, the best money-goalie in the League, the best checking line and two of the best young players in the NHL, so I feel we're a good hockey club.
"If I felt a major overhaul was needed, it would be harder to leave, but I feel I have delivered here and I believe the team is in good shape.
"Now there are some cap issues, so it's not like Murph (Murray) is inherited a walk through the park," Burke said. "We don't have any of our defensemen signed after this season. But we did restock the pipeline through the draft, having five picks in the top 42 (in 2008) and we've added we added to the organizational depth. So, Murph will have challenges, as every GM does."
Burke admitted he did not address the players about Wednesday's events. Murray, however, was speaking with the team following practice.
"I addressed my situation at our preseason meetings, so the players knew what was going on," Burke said. "I'm sure it'll be a seamless transition. But this is Bob Murray
's day and I know you people have to write about this stuff, but my situation is not as important as Bob's right now. I am going to try and get off the payroll as soon as the organization allows me; right now, all I can tell you is that it will be some time in the near future."
Burke, whose name has been brought up as a possible candidate for the GM position in Toronto, was named GM of the Ducks on June 20, 2005.
In addition to winning the Cup in '07, Burke also led the Ducks to their first Pacific Division title (2007) and first two 100-plus point seasons (2006-07 & 2007-08). The club has qualified for the playoffs all three years. Burke's team defeated the Ottawa Senators
in five games to earn its first Stanley Cup in 2006-07. He became the first West Coast general manager to win the Stanley Cup since Lester Patrick
guided the 1924 Vancouver Cougars.
"It'll be weird sitting in a different seat at the game on Friday," Burke said. "I've always sat in that same seat and now I'll be in a different seat, so that'll be strange parking in a different spot.
"As I've said all along though, the Samuelis and Michael Schulman are special people," said Burke. "This was the hardest decision I've ever had to make. I'm comforted that the team is in great hands with Bob and David (McNab) in charge. I can't thank everyone enough for their understanding and patience as I wrestled with this decision."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.