Though his Leafs took a while to prove it, Brian Burke is still a master judge of talent. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
It's clearly not about the money for Brian Burke.
Burke, removed as general manager of the Maple Leafs last month, could have stayed in Toronto, puttered around and collected on the final two years of contract that paid a reported $3 million per. Instead, he'll rejoin one of his former teams, the Anaheim Ducks, as a part-time pro scout.
The Ducks made the announcement early Thursday afternoon.
The position might seem like a step down, but it's more of a career retrenchment for the voluble, irascible Burke.
There's a lot to be said for leaving when you know you're not wanted. Burke suffered the indignities only as long as he had to and then picked his spot. In Anaheim, a town where he built a Stanley Cup winner in 2006-07, his opinions and insights will carry weight. He won't be the decider, but he'll have a voice with general manager Bob Murray, something he wouldn't be afforded in Toronto.
Burke's always been considered a reliable judge of pro talent. It took time, but the team he built in Toronto looks like the competitor he always envisioned, and he built an aggressive new model that led to Team USA's surprising silver-medal winning finish at the Vancouver Olympics. That kind of knowledge will be a real asset in Anaheim.
This gig keeps him on the front lines, active in player assessment. That's a perfect springboard for the next general manager spot that opens up. And whenever one does (Buffalo and Washington are on alert), Burke's name is likely to be at or near the top of that team's wish list.
And if the right NHL job doesn't pop up soon, he might have a way to fill the idle hours. A part-time position would afford Burke the freedom to tackle the responsibilities of building Team USA for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He hasn't been named general manager of that club, but he is regarded as the front-runner for the position.