The Toronto Maple Leafs have replaced general manager Brian Burke with Dave Nonis taking over as the new GM and senior vice president. Burke will remain with the organization as a senior advisor.
"Brian will not have direct authority over hockey operations, however this new role will allow our board and I to continue to benefit from his hockey expertise," MLSE president Tom Anselmi said in a statement. "We want to thank Brian for accepting his new role and staying on with our organization."
MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum, who is in New York City for the Board of Governors meetings, said it was "a decision of the board."
It was surprising news to many that after a 113-day lockout, the Maple Leafs would fire Burke now.
"Not very often I'm at a loss for words, but today I am," TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie said of the timing of the firing.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com shared those sentiments.
"For him to be fired before a single game played is nothing short of shocking, especially given his role in the CBA negotiations," said LeBrun.
Maple Leafs winger Mike Brown echoed the reactions.
"A lot of things are happening pretty quickly. It's definitely weird timing," Brown said of the news. "I wish him the best and thank him for everything."
Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul said he was "completely" shocked to hear the news and players need to look at themselves upon hearing the news.
"We didn't get the job done last year and now he's paying the price. Obviously it doesn't feel good for any of us," said Lupul.
Even close friends of Burke arriving in New York City for the NHL meetings had no clue and were stunned at the news.
Burke had been the Maple Leafs' president and general manager since November 29, 2008. The club has missed the playoffs in every season under his watch and are coming off a 13th-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
He made some big moves during his time in Toronto. One of his most notable trades was landing Dion Phaneuf in a seven-player deal with Calgary in 2010. His most hotly debated trade was a 2009 deal with the Bruins, when he acquired Phil Kessel for two first-round draft picks and a second-round selection. The Bruins used the picks to select forward Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight.
Burke's NHL career began in Vancouver in 1987 when he was hired by Pat Quinn to be the director of hockey operations for the Canucks. In 1993, he left the job to become GM of the Hartford Whalers before stepping down after one just one season to join the NHL front office as executive vice president and director of hockey operations.
In 1998, he returned to Vancouver to become GM of the Canucks. Following the 2003-04 season, ownership chose not to renew his contract and named Nonis his replacement.
Burke then became general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, where he won the Stanley Cup in the 2006-07 season. He was reunited with Nonis the following season after Nonis was relieved of his duties with the Canucks.
On November 29, 2008, Burke was introduced as president and general manager of the Maple Leafs, replacing interim general manager Cliff Fletcher, and just six days later Nonis accepted the position of senior vice president and director of hockey operations of the Maple Leafs. It marked the third time he had served under Burke.
Burke leaves the Maple Leafs with a record of 129-135-42.