SBD/January 11, 2013/Franchises

Cult Of Personality: Anselmi Thinks Clash Of Styles Led To New Leafs Owners Firing Burke

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Burke reportedly is "shocked" and "disappointed" in his dismissal
A day after the Maple Leafs fired President & GM Brian Burke, the question remains of whether Bell Media and Rogers Communications, the team's new owners, were "simply tired of Burke's personality, which some would describe as gruff, confrontational, and obnoxious," according to Doug Harrison of The CBC. MLSE President & COO Tom Anselmi said, "I think that was part of it. I talked about leadership and a lot of different things. The leadership and relationship between the general manager and ownership is a really unique type of relationship. Style, personality, ways of doing things all factor (in the decision)" (CBC.ca, 1/10). In Toronto, Rosie DiManno writes the Maple Leafs yet again have "chosen to hurtle down the road most foolishly taken: immeasurably disruptive on the eve of a shortened NHL season launching, staggeringly lousy in judgment, inexplicable in bad timing." Burke after he was let go "disappeared, his whereabouts known only to a handful of intimates." A source said, "He’s gone underground for a few days. He’s shocked. And disappointed." DiManno writes the "berserk decision was not, of course, worn by" Bell President & CEO George Cope when the Leafs "hastily called their afternoon press conference." Instead, Anselmi "trotted out before the cameras to make the formal announcement, a clearly overwhelmed [new Leafs GM Dave] Nonis sitting alongside." A source said the relationship between Burke and Cope "didn't click." DiManno: "Could such a dramatic shift in the front office really come down to so arbitrary a character judgement? Seems so" (TORONTO STAR, 1/11).

LEAFS' LAMENT: In Toronto, Damien Cox writes Maple Leafs fans should "lament the ridiculous way in which this was done." Cox: "Lament the way this perennially underachieving organization, even with new ownership in place, talks about winning and then proceeds in a manner that is about anything but winning." This is the "first really big sports decision undertaken" by the Bell-Rogers partnership, and not only was it "done in such a way that should make Leaf fans very worried, it may also be an indication why this corporate partnership of media rivals is destined not to last" (TORONTO STAR, 1/11). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes under the header, "Tanenbaum Left To Do The Dirty Work For MLSE Board." MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum last summer was "congratulated for cutting himself quite a deal" regarding the sale of the team, but he currently must be "wondering what he got himself into" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/11).

DOG DAYS OF WINTER: In Toronto, Michele Henry writes shortly after Burke was let go, Air Canada Centre's staff "removed the sign over his eponymous hotdog stand." Henry: "Bye bye Burkie's Dog House. Hello, The Dog House." MLSE Dir of Corporate Communications Rajani Kamath said that is what the "popular hot dog stand will be rebranded" (TORONTO STAR, 1/11).
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