ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The new owners of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim wasted little time finding a general manager.
After announcing the purchase of the Mighty Ducks from the Walt
Disney Company, owners Henry and Susan Samueli named Brian Burke
as the executive vice president and general manager of the
franchise on Monday.
"I'm very proud and enthusiastic to be joining the Ducks
organization," Burke said. "My goals for the team are simple:
have a consistent winning team on the ice and ensure we become
an integral part of the Orange County community."
Burke will report directly to Michael Schulman, who was named
chief executive officer.
"We're committed to winning, we're committed to putting an
exciting team on the ice," said Samueli, who also introduced
Tim Ryan as executive vice president and chief operating officer; Bob Wagner as
senior vice president and chief marketing officer, and Mike
O'Donnell as senior vice president and general manager for Anaheim
The sale of the Mighty Ducks for a reported $75 million was
announced Feb. 25, and includes the team's practice facility.
Samueli is co-founder, chairman of the board and chief technical
officer of Broadcom Corp.
Burke was fired as general manager of the Canucks in May 2004
after a six-year tenure marked by highs and lows.
The highs included four consecutive postseason appearances and
the development of Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi into stars.
The lows featured just one playoff series victory and the
suspension of Bertuzzi for a vicious hit on Colorado's Steve Moore.
Burke replaces Bryan Murray, who resigned as senior vice
president and general manager of the Ducks last June to become
coach of the Ottawa Senators.
The Ducks failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2003-04 after
making it to the Stanley Cup Finals the previous season.
Anaheim named senior vice president of business operations Al
Coates as interim general manager after Murray left. But with
the team up for sale and the 2004-05 season wiped out by a
bitter labor dispute, Coates held the interim tag longer than
Burke, who turns 50 on June 30, built the Canucks back into a
playoff contender. Vancouver improved its point total in five
straight seasons, including a franchise-best 104 in 2002-03.
"We wanted someone who could hit the ground running and had
been around the block," Samueli said. "You need a team with
passion. It starts from the top."
Regarding his success with the Canucks, Burke said: "It's
worked before, it's going to work here. [The players] are going to
do things my way or we'll find them somewhere else to play."
Burke said he plans to meet Tuesday with Mighty Ducks coach Mike
Babcock, whose contract expires next week.
"I have no preconceived notions on that meeting," Burke said.
"He's a very bright guy. This guy took his team to the finals --
he's going to get a fair shot at keeping the job."
Burke said he hopes to resolve the coaching situation in the
next couple of weeks.
"The players need to know Mike is going to be the guy or
there's going to be a change," Burke said.
Burke said he has already met with Coates, who has one year
remaining on his contract.
"We will try to find something for him," Burke said.
Burke made it clear that on-ice changes are needed.
"I do believe the team was too small and too passive," he
said. "This team has lacked the physical part of the game. We will
be more physical."
Samueli said he and his wife are committed to keeping the team
in Anaheim, but are open to changing the nickname if that's what
the fans want.
"That's definitely been a topic of discussion," he said. "For
this coming season, there will be no change. We've decided to let
the fans have input. We'll open it up this year and see what the
fans want to do.
"We do like the name. And we like the logo. One possibility is
to just be the Ducks. It's not something we have a great desire to
Samueli did promise that he won't change the team name from
Anaheim to Los Angeles, as owner Arte Moreno did with baseball's
Angels several months ago.