Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Updated: November 13, 12:51 PM ET
Murray eager to get going as successor to Ducks GM Burke
By Pierre LeBrun
Brian Burke won't have to wait long to take calls from other NHL teams now that he has stepped down as Anaheim Ducks general manager.
"After he helps us with the transition, he'll be free to talk to other teams about employment," Ducks CEO Michael Schulman announced at a news conference Wednesday. "That will probably be a week or two."
Bob Murray, who has been the Ducks' senior vice president of hockey operations since 2005, replaced his good friend Burke, who has been Anaheim's GM since June 2005 and watched the team win the Stanley Cup in 2007.
"There's only 30 of these jobs available and it's an honor and a privilege and it's exciting for me take over," Murray said. "I can't wait to take over. I've been taught properly by Brian and we will go on the same way that we have since the beginning.
"People are worried about transition when these things happen. Well, from day one, from when Brian and I took over this organization, he has included me in everything he's done. All of our hirings, all of our trades."
The Ducks will inform the NHL's front office that they are giving the rest of the league access to Burke, who has long been linked to the Toronto GM job. Cliff Fletcher is filling the role on an interim basis.
"This should be Bob Murray's day," Burke said at his own news conference Wednesday. "All the speculation about what happens next, we can do that another time. I haven't got that far."
Of course, as Burke quickly pointed out, there aren't many other NHL GM jobs available.
"There's only one job open in the National Hockey League today, so I don't know about being sought after," Burke said at his own news conference in Anaheim.
Reached late Wednesday afternoon, Maple Leafs CEO Richard Peddie reaffirmed Fletcher's job status as temporary.
"Obviously Cliff is in the job right now, but it was never imagined that he would be our long-term GM," Peddie said. "His contract states that. He's very accepting and positive about that. He's here to serve the Leaf Nation as long as we want him there. And he's done a great job.
"We had imagined that our search [for a permanent GM] would begin again in the spring. When I get back to Toronto I'll chat with some of my board members and decide our next steps."
Burke confirmed that he officially turned down an extension from the Ducks on Nov. 1. From that point, the Ducks began negotiations with Murray to become GM and he signed a contract Tuesday.
In October, Burke and Schulman discussed a transition plan in the event Burke would not stay on -- and it included promoting Murray to GM. In the meantime, the Ducks' contract extension to Burke remained on the table until he finally rejected it.
"It was a tough decision. These people have been great to me," Burke said. "But I'm doing this for family reasons."
Burke has said he wants to return to the East Coast, where he still has children from a first marriage.
"We wanted to give Brian all the time he needed to make a sound decision. After everything he's done for the franchise, he deserved that," Schulman said. " ... We're sad that he's leaving but accept his decision as being in the best interest of his family."
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.