Brian Burke was the architect of the USA Hockey team that rode the hot goaltending of Ryan Miller all the way to overtime of the 2010 gold medal match in the Vancouver Olympics.
He was the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs then. Now, he’s out of a GM gig; according to Sportsnet 590 in Toronto, that’s the reason he won’t be back in the same capacity for Team USA in Sochi 2014.
As reported on the “Brady and Lang” show by co-host Greg Brady, Burke will not be asked back as the team’s general manager. As Brady tweeted:
“Burke was told, as suspected, USA Hockey wants a current NHL GM. [Nashville GM David] Poile a strong candidate. Burke definitely wanted the job - obviously he made a huge commitment to after his son's tragic passing. Might be a mistake by USA Hockey.”
Burke’s son Brendan died in a car accident on Feb. 5, 2010; the Winter Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver began on Feb. 13, 2010. Burke worked through his personal tragedy, which served as an inspiration for the American players.
He also made some bold decisions at GM that helped Team USA earn silver: Most notably the addition of Chris Drury to the roster, as the veteran center had become a high-priced punchline for the New York Rangers. Drury was one of the team’s best players in the tournament, and rewrote the legacy of his latter years in the NHL.
The notion that a general manager needs to be currently employed in the NHL to take the reins of Team USA seems a bit odd.
First, because having an individual solely dedicated to building the roster without any distractions would seem like, you know, a good thing. Second, it’s not as if Brian Burke’s been out of the game for several years – and it’s certainly not like he isn’t familiar with many of the returning players for Team USA.
This seems – and one hates to say it – like an excuse not to hire Brian Burke again as GM.
Maybe they just don’t want to have that awkward discussion about Ron Wilson coming back to coach the team …
Who takes over Team USA? As Brady mentioned, Poile must be considered as a strong candidate, given his years of service. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero could be considered the front-runner, especially if his coach Dan Bylsma ends up behind the bench. Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi was an adviser for Team USA in 2010; he might be somewhat familiar with the team’s starting goalie in Sochi.
Oh yeah: There's been no official announcement about he NHL going to Sochi and blah blah bliggity blah blah of course they're going.