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Did anything actually change with the firing of Brian Burke? With Dave Nonis stepping in to take over the reins, it is not clear that any big changes will be coming.

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Bruce Bennett

What a strange turn of events.

The Board of Governors at MLSE says that with new owners they want to go in a different direction. In an entirely logical next-step they fire Brian Burke and within hours promote his protégé Dave Nonis, a man who will likely continue taking the team in exactly the same direction. Let's also not forget that Nonis shares much of the blame for where the Leafs are now. So if MLSE doesn't like the shape of the Leafs, why would they keep a man who had a big hand in shaping them?

Nonis may not bluster as much as Burke does about truculence, belligerence, pugnacity, and testosterone but he himself says that he will wind up doing many of the same types of things Burke would have done. (As an aside, I don't buy for one minute that his firing was because of Burke's public persona.) Nonis even says that the team needs to be "harder to play against", though it's true that can be interpreted several ways. Further reinforcing this idea is that Nonis' track record more or less corroborates this - with the exception of having once traded for a good goalie.

The timing is, of course, bizarre, unless the status quo is expected, and all signs point to that being the case. There were rumblings Randy Carlyle may be shown the door as well, but at the press conference, Nonis repeatedly stated his support for the Leafs' current head coach, as well as other front office folks already working in Toronto.

Are you excited that Burke has been relieved of his duties? Are you equally excited that this is virtually the same team, same coaches, and management (with the same philosophies) as last year, and will inevitably wind up with the same results? Maybe in a few seasons, Nonis demonstrates that he has much more patience than Burke, and this move ultimately pays off, but I'm not going to get my hopes up yet.

As for the Roberto Luongo situation, I can't imagine that a single deal could have been the demise of a GM. Bob McKenzie agrees. Heck, I'm not even sure acquiring a back-diving contract is a good idea at all, now that the team may be punished if the player retires early.

The Simpson's bus driver Otto would probably say that this deal "puffs of the whacky tabacky", and I'm inclined to agree, but we'll most likely never know what was behind the move [Edit: James Mirtle tweeted last night that he will have more on this later today]. Tom Anselmi was incredibly evasive when asked for a concrete reason for the dismissal and I doubt Burke will give us anything more. I'd wager he has too much of a reputation to smear by calling foul at this point. If he keeps his nose clean, he'll shock no one by winding up working for the league again.

So for now, we'll just have to sit back and hope. I guess that's all we ever do anyway.


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A few interesting Twitter tidbits. Did you know that JFJ was GM of the Leafs for 105 more days than Burke? I mean, there was an entire season lost to a lockout in there, but still.

Who is new Leafs’ GM Dave Nonis?
James Mirtle with a quick look at Nonis' work.

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James Mirtle poses the question.

Shoalts: Leafs’ owners channel their inner Ballard with Burke firing
David Shoalts says "it doesn’t matter if that owner is individual or corporate, once they take charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs there is an inevitable descent into the dark comedy that marked Ballard’s ownership through the 1970s and 1980s."

Philadelphia Flyers kicking the tires on Roberto Luongo trade?
The story takes another interesting turn, says Greg Wyshynski.

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"Blick said the hockey player was "not versed in appliances" and as a result tried to wash his clothes in the dryer." Pretty funny stuff via Harrison Mooney.

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Michael Langlois has a podcast and a bit of an article for you.

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MLHS doesn`t like the move because they think Burke was doing a good job.

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