Burke, Leafs come to agreement on six-year deal for GM job

Updated: November 28, 2008, 7:57 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

Brian Burke is the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

[+] EnlargeBrian Burke
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesBrian Burke has been linked to the Leafs job for more than a year but the speculation intensified once he parted ways with the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 13.

According to TSN of Canada, the deal is worth about $18 million, and Burke would have complete autonomy in running the Maple Leafs.

"I am really excited that Brian is able to get this straightened out, if it is true," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said to the Associated Press after Thursday's game.

The team has scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon to formally introduce Burke as their general manager.

Burke has been linked to the Leafs job for more than a year, but the speculation intensified once he parted ways with the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 13.

Cliff Fletcher was hired as interim general manager of the Maple Leafs in January, and said at the time his goal was to "set the table" for the man who would permanently hold down the job after him.

"He's done a great job setting the table for Burkie. An unbelievable job," Wilson said to the Associated Press.

Burke recently turned down a contract extension to remain general manager of the Ducks, citing the need to spend more time with his family and the strong state of the team he helped turn into a Stanley Cup champion as reasons for leaving.

He was replaced by Bob Murray on Nov. 12 and remained with the Ducks as a special consultant to CEO Michael Schulman through the transition period.

Burke, 53, explained that he wants to spend more time with his six children, who live on the East Coast, and that 11 years of commuting coast-to-coast was enough for him.

Burke and Schulman had discussed the possibility for 11 months, and Burke made his decision Nov. 1.

"This is the toughest decision I've ever had in my life, professionally, as far as what to do next," Burke said then. "I've been wrestling with the decision. I've got four older children on the East Coast and two little ones [4 and 2], and I don't see any of them enough. So I felt if I can get a chance to get in the same time zone with them, I'm going to take it."

The Ducks allowed him to immediately pursue positions even though his contract with the team wasn't set to expire until next summer.

"On behalf of the entire Anaheim Ducks family, we would once again like to thank Brian for his tremendous contributions over the last three-plus seasons," said Schulman. "Brian stated on many occasions his desire to be closer to his family, which we support. We congratulate and wish him the best of luck with the Maple Leafs."

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.