As the Ducks walked off the plane in Southern California yesterday afternoon, they knew questions were circling around the organization. But after the heartbreaking series end to the Dallas Stars, the Ducks must now come home and read the Los Angeles Times this morning. To many, it might be the first day off since September, so a reading of the newspaper and a bowl of cereal with the wife and kids might be a nice start to the summer. But I know if I was a Ducks player and I flipped to the Sports page and saw "Ducks want to keep Burke; Maple Leafs interested in GM" my heart would sink a little more into my stomach.
After the way this season ended, for the Ducks to lose Brian Burke to the Toronto Maple Leafs would be a dagger to the heart. Burke basically put together two consecutive Stanley Cup run and this season, he provided a talent-packed team (regardless of underachievement). Burke still has one year remaining on his contract and to top it off, the Ducks organization is very pleased with his performance and hopes to extend the contract this summer.
With heated pressure now coming from Toronto, there is no doubt the Ducks are in a race against the clock. The owners of the Ducks organization, Henry and Susan Samueli want Burke to stay as well. To this point one thing is stacked against the Ducks, the lure of being Maple Leafs' General Manager.
The Leafs are much like the Yankees of hockey, as a team they define the sport and although in modern memory the team is terrible, the fans still love them. When people think of hockey, many think of the Maple Leafs as old. The new Leafs need to shake things up and Burke would fit in nicely. According to the Los Angeles Times article cited above, the Leafs have yet to formally seek permission to contact Burke. Regardless, Burke may have made up his mind.
“Burke acknowledged the allure of the Maple Leafs, who have not won a Stanley Cup in 41 years but are hockey's most profitable franchise and possibly its most popular.
"If you're Catholic, this is the Vatican," Burke said at the time.
But he also said, "I have a job that I love, and I work for special people in the Samuelis. I'm not going anywhere." - According to Los Angeles Times.com
Burke is expected to discuss his situation today when the players and coaches gather to clear out the locker room at Honda Center.
Unfortunately for the Anaheim Ducks, losing to the Dallas Stars may only be the beginning of things they will lose this summer.
*Author's Note: Since this story broke on Bleacher Report and the Los Angeles Times website, I felt the need to update my readers and mention the fact that Brian Burke has made full commitment to the Ducks and will for sure remain with them through 2008-2009 as General Manager. He is currently seeking a contract extension with the organization.*