ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—When the Canucks closed out their opening series with a Game 7 victory, Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke fired off a message to Vancouver counterpart Dave Nonis.
“I sent Dave an e-mail after they won last night, congratulating him,” Burke said Tuesday. “My last year there, we won a divisional title. Dave was a huge part of that.
“‘He’s got his own banner up there this year. I’m proud of him for that.”
But, Burke added, “This is as far as I want to see him get.”
The two close friends won’t be pulling for each other for a change—the Ducks and Canucks open their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series on Wednesday night in Anaheim.
The Ducks defeated Minnesota in five games in their first-round series and haven’t played since Thursday, so they should be well-rested.
After winning three of the first four games against Dallas, the Canucks were stretched to the limit and finally ended it with a 4-1 win on Monday night. They get only one day off before beginning the second round.
Burke served as a sort of mentor for Nonis, who was his right-hand man in Vancouver and got the GM job after Burke was let go following the 2003-2004 season and the lockout that wiped out the following season.
The Ducks hired Burke in the summer of 2005, and he has engineered the same type of turnaround in Anaheim that he had earlier in Vancouver.
“I hired Dave when I was an assistant GM in Vancouver, and then I took him to the NHL front office with me. I brought him back to Vancouver,” Burke said. “He’s an extremely bright guy, an extremely hard worker, very competitive, good family guy.
“I have a lot of admiration and respect for him. That won’t change.”
Nonis also stressed their friendship, but said the series isn’t about the GMs, “It’s about the teams on the ice.”
Nonis said he and Burke spoke on the phone earlier Tuesday, and joked, “He’s looking for tickets.”
Captain Markus Naslund, one of 11 players still on the Canucks from Burke’s six years as GM, said: “I think we all have fond memories of Brian and have a lot of respect for what he brought as a GM and it shows now, too—he’s put together a successful team in Anaheim.”
Burke said his dismissal in Vancouver is a “non-issue” in these playoffs.
“It’s going to be a lot bigger story in Canada than it is here,” he said. “It’s another team we have to play. All of the people that gassed me are gone.
“What was unusual about our situation in Vancouver, my wife had a very successful career of her own. It was a devastating blow when we were released. But it’s turned out to be a great blessing. Far from being bitter, I’m grateful that I got let go because now I get to work here.”
The Canucks are much changed since Burke’s time as their GM, although he brought some of the current players on board—including twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Naslund, and brought back fan favorite Trevor Linden. Linden had the go-ahead goal and an assist in the Game 7 victory over the Stars.
When Burke hired Randy Carlyle to coach the Ducks before the 2005-2006 season, Alain Vigneault filled Carlyle’s former job as coach of Vancouver’s farm team in Manitoba. Vigneault now coaches the Canucks.
Carlyle said he’s grateful toward the Canucks organization, saying, “They gave me the opportunity to hone whatever skills I have.”
“It should be a good series,” Giguere said. “I think they have the best goaltender in the world right now, so it’s going to be interesting to see.”
Naslund believes the lack of time off won’t necessarily hurt the Canucks, saying, “It could work in our favor, too. We’ve got the adrenaline going and hopefully we can just keep carrying on from the last two periods. On the other hand, they’re well rested and they’re waiting for us.” … Vancouver recalled D Alexander Edler from Manitoba of the AHL as a precaution since both Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa both failed to finish Game 7.