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Calgary Flames reportedly talking to Brian Burke

Randy Sportak


Numerous reports have former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke headed to Calgary for a spot in the Flames front office. SUN file photo.

Numerous reports have former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke headed to Calgary for a spot in the Flames front office. SUN file photo.


If Brian Burke is about to join the Calgary Flames, the veteran front-office hockey man wasn’t about to tip his hand Wednesday night at Calgary International Airport.

When asked if he was about to join the NHL club, Burke declined comment.

“I’m not going to have any comment about this tonight,” Burke said. “Sorry, you had to camp out here.

“I’m not going to talk about it tonight. I appreciate you have to ask, and I think you should appreciate I don’t have much to say tonight.”

Maybe the Battle of Alberta will actually be interesting in the next few years, after all.

It won’t likely be the case on the ice with the Edmonton Oilers a rising team and the Calgary Flames falling to the bottom of the league, but the potential for some down and dirty action in a barn will be there.

Burke, who once admitted he wanted to rent a barn for a mano-a-mano scrap with Kevin Lowe — now the Oilers president of hockey operations — over the Dustin Penner offer-sheet signing, is reportedly deep in discussions with the Flames to control the club’s hockey operations.

Burke, the former GM for the Hartford Whalers, the Vancouver Canucks, the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs — with whom he also served as president — is on his way to a hockey banquet Friday night in Lloydminster amid reports he’s about to join the Flames front office.

The Flames didn’t respond to requests, but the hockey world was rampant with the rumour.

“Burke is deep into discussions to join the Flames in an executive position but it is not, as of this moment, done,” tweeted TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie on Wednesday night. “Beyond that, for us, it’s all speculative. Could very well get done. Enough moving parts/complexities that there could be issues.”

The Flames have spent months trying to add another person to a high post in their hockey department, while keeping GM Jay Feaster in his current position.

Of course, the general belief would be that an experienced, been-there-done-that executive is readily available if the Flames want to move in another direction running the team and fire Feaster. (They approached Brendan Shanahan about the post in June, but the hall of famer opted to remain in his post with the NHL.)

The question will if it would be a good move?

It likely couldn’t hurt a Flames team which has plummeted from being a believed Stanley Cup contender coming out of the lockout which wiped out the 2004-05 NHL season and didn’t come close and has now missed the playoffs the last four seasons.

Certainly with Burke at the helm, things wouldn’t be dull around the Saddledome. He’s always proven to be brazen with his moves. Some have worked out brilliantly, such as the draft-day manoeuvering to grab both the Sedin twins in the 1999 draft or acquire Chris Pronger for the Ducks, which became a key to the 2007 Stanley Cup title victory.

Some have been controversial with mixed results but often panned, such as dealing away a couple of first-round draft choices and a second-round pick to the Boston Bruins for scorer Phil Kessel.

And Flames fans will remember the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster deal.

Some, especially free-agent signings such as defenceman Mike Komisarek, have been busts.

The Flames will need bold moves in the coming years to get out of the basement.

Still, the key will be whether Burke would have enough patience. This is a team in short supply of high-end prospects amidst what’s going to be a tough rebuild.

Sure, there are some very strong young pieces in place in the likes of forwards Sven Baertschi, ’13 first-round picks Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk, defenceman TJ Brodie and a couple of young goalies in Laurent Brossoit and Jon Gillies, but that cornerstone player is yet to be found.

The way things are going, that may come in the next year or two, be it the likes of ’14 top prospects Sam Reinhart or Aaron Ekblad or ’15 consensus No.1 pick Connor McDavid.

The real job would be to build around that kind of core and create a Cup contender.

Having somebody around who’s done it wouldn’t hurt.

And that’s Burke, for sure.

The fun will be to see whether it would mean too many cooks in the kitchen.


Would Brian Burke be a wise addition to the Flames front office?

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