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Burke points to lack of success for early dismissal

TSN.ca Staff

1/12/2013 2:49:09 PM

Brian Burke made no excuses for his time in Toronto.

Speaking to the media at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday three days after being fired as senior vice-president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Burke gave a clear answer as to what went wrong under his direction.

"We didn't win enough, and that's why we're here today," he said prior to answering questions from reporters.

"I did not accomplish what I set out to accomplish."

Burke, who was abruptly dismissed Wednesday as the team was preparing to transition from the lockout to the start of the 2012-13 NHL season, leaves after just over four years with the club. Under his direction, the team posted a record of 129-135-42.

The team replaced Burke with his assistant GM and long-time close colleague Dave Nonis.

He admitted that he was given a clear reason for his dismissal, but has elected to keep that reason between himself and the team's ownership.

Those reasons, however, didn't lessen the shock of his dismissal.

"I was stunned by this turn of events," he admitted during the question period.

"This one here was like a two-by-four upside the head for me," he would later add.

When asked if the decision came down to a personality clash with the new ownership group, Burke reiterated that it boiled down to his inability to provide a winning product on the ice during his tenure.

"I can stand here and say 'oh, they didn't like my personality,' but those all become pretexts and excuses later. If you win enough games you can be as obnoxious as you want to be," said Burke.

While rumours continue to swirl about the Leafs possibly having interest in acquiring Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, Burke pointed to the crease as one area where his teams needed improvement.

"Clearly goaltending was an issue," Burke said.

He did clarify, however, that he thought Leafs incumbent starter James Reimer would have performed better for the club had he not been set back by injuries.

Burke was dismissed for the third time in his managerial career after a change in ownership, having previously been dismissed by Vancouver and Anaheim after those teams had changed hands.

Burke joked about the trend being something he'd like to avoid in the future, stating: "I'd like to go work for a team that doesn't get sold next time."

With no general manager jobs vacant in the league at the moment, it is unclear when Burke will return to run an NHL club. However, the end of his time in Toronto has not soured his willingness to run a team in the league.

When asked when he'd be ready to return to GM duties, he responded: “tomorrow, if I can. I don't think I'm done from a hockey perspective.”