Where has goalie guru Sean Burke been since leaving Coyotes?

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PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Head coach Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes stands with goaltending coach Sean Burke during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
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Sean Burke is recovered from double hip replacement surgery. 

The former Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes goaltending coach took time off last summer to have the operation and work on rehab. Because of the surgery, his current absence from the NHL game was more medically driven than anything.  

“I got to the point this summer where I realized I had to get this stuff done and put the time aside to do it and I’m glad I did,” Burke said in a phone interview with Puck Daddy.

That doesn’t mean Burke doesn’t want to return to the NHL, he’d just like to do it in less of a coaching capacity and more of a management role. He’s currently spending time at his Phoenix-area home and doing scouting work with Team Europe for the World Cup of Hockey.

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“It was sort of planned that way. I was in management in Phoenix, I was the assistant to the GM there as well as a goalie coach. I got to a point there where it was just time to move on,” Burke said. “I had a really good experience there. I really enjoyed Phoenix and I still live there but when you’re in a place for that long and you sort of get to that stage where you realize your direction is not the same necessarily as the organization’s direction for you, you have to make a decision.”

Burke, 48, became a goaltending coach not because that was his sole post playing career ambition – but because he was impressively good at the job. He played 820 games as a netminder with eight different organizations. He retired after the 2006-07 season. 

Arizona general manager Don Maloney asked him to move from his position as Coyotes director of prospect development into the goaltending coach role. And he delivered for the Coyotes.

From Burke’s first season in 2009-10 until his final season last year he resurrected journeymen netminders and turned them into starters. His first pupil was Ilya Bryzgalov, who notched goal-against averages of 2.29 and 2.48 respectively in his two years working with Burke along with save percentages of .920 and .921. 

Mike Smith was an unknown before he held a 2.21 goal-against average and .930 save percentage in his first year working with Burke. Devan Dubnyk turned into a star working with Burke and a Vezina Trophy finalist last season. He used a lot of Burke’s Arizona teachings after a trade to Minnesota.

“Most of the time those types of players are frustrated because they know it’s in them, and it’s just not being brought out of them or they’re not finding a way to play at their best level,” Burke said. “I think what I’ve really been able to do successfully if there’s one thing is bring that out of the guys – what’s already been in there but hasn’t really transpired.”

During the summer of 2012, Burke added the title of “assistant to the general manager” to his role in the organization. Before then, along with goaltending coach, he was also “director of player development.”

Though he had more responsibility, it would have been hard to move up the managerial ladder had he stayed in the desert. Former Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier is currently the team’s assistant general manager. John Chayka, a young analytics whiz, was hired last offseason as assistant GM/analytics. If Burke had stayed with the Coyotes, he probably would have kept the same role. That’s why Burke decided to take some time to find the right management spot.

“I look at it as a stage at a point in my career that if I continued to stay in the coaching I would enjoy it, but the longer you do something in that area, the harder it’s going to be to transition and the timing just seemed right for me” Burke said.

Burke isn’t openly stumping for a general manager’s job. He just thinks his type of hockey mind is more in line with the managerial thought process. He has worked with Team Canada with putting together World Junior and World Championship teams. Burke was also interviewed for president of Hockey Canada last summer.

“To me the management side of things is more seated for what my personality and skill set is.” Burke said. “I think at the end of the day everybody wants to contribute to a winning team. I want to be a part of a Stanley Cup winner one day and I think with goaltending coaching you have an opportunity to participate in helping with that but I think at the management level you have a lot more responsibility and a lot more areas you can touch and that’s sort of what I’ve wanted to challenge myself with is taking what I’ve learned over all these years, the experiences and different people I’ve worked with and take those things and transition into a role that can help build a Stanley Cup winning team.”

Burke is well connected and someone will likely see that he can be a strong asset to a hockey team. It’s more a matter of when, not if.

“I believe management is there to provide the players with every opportunity to succeed,” Burke said. “You take away all the excuses and at the end of the day you treat the players with respect and you have to let them know and have them believe that you care about them but there’s an expectation to win.”

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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