TORONTO – Brian Burke wishes the Toronto Maple Leafs had won more games — and he'd seen his firing coming.
At a press conference three days after he was let go as president and general manager, Burke said Saturday he was surprised the release came just as the NHL resolved its lockout.
"There's sometimes when you get fired and you see the vultures circling and you understand it's coming," Burke said. "You're not sure when you're going to drop dead in the desert, but it's coming and you can see the vultures.
"This one here was like a two-by-four upside the head to me."
Burke was fired after four years in Toronto and no playoff appearances.
"Obviously, your job as the GM is to bring in players that win. We didn't win," he said. "I can stand here and say 'Oh, they didn't like my personality,' but those all become pretexts and excuses later. If you win enough games, you can be as obnoxious as you want to be."
He wished his successor Dave Nonis, coach Randy Carlye and captain Dion Phaneuf good luck in the shortened-season that begins on Jan. 19. He also thanked former and current owners, staff and players.
The 57-year-old Burke will remain with the Leafs as a senior adviser consulting with Tom Anselmi, the president of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, as well as the team's Board of Governors.
He will not advise the Leafs about on-ice issues.
The Anaheim Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup when Burke was the general manager. He also served as GM of the U.S. men's hockey team for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.