From Comcast SportsNetTORONTO (AP) -- Brian Burke's brash and outspoken style wasn't a good fit for the new corporate owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs.The Maple Leafs fired their general manager Wednesday with the NHL season set to resume this month following a tentative settlement ending the lockout.Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President Tom Anselmi said at a news conference that longtime Burke assistant David Nonis will fill the job. Burke will stay as a senior adviser.Anselmi acknowledged that four years without a playoff berth factored into the decision. But ultimately, he added, ownership wanted a different look at the top.Canada's largest telecommunication companies, Rogers Communications and BCE Inc., took control of the Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA's Toronto Raptors after the 1.3 billion deal closed in August."Brian had a style and we knew what we were getting when he was hired a number of years ago," Anselmi said. "This is really about a change in leadership voice and leadership direction."Anselmi fired Burke on Wednesday morning, the announcement startling many. Nonis was among those who didn't see the firing coming."Brian, when we were talking this morning, said I get it, ownership is changing,'" Anselmi said.The new board of directors let Burke go before the Maple Leafs might have had a chance to make the playoffs in a lockout-shortened season. Toronto has not made the playoffs since Burke was hired in 2008. The club last played in the postseason in 2004 and hasn't won a Stanley Cup since 1967.Anselmi stressed that the personnel Burke put in place will make for a seamless transition. Nonis, without Burke's outsized personality, said there won't be a great player turnover.Before joining Toronto, Burke spent more than three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, leading them to a Stanley Cup title in 2007. Nonis worked with Burke in Anaheim and when Burke was general manager of the Vancouver Canucks. Nonis also replaced Burke in Vancouver, compiling a record 130-91-25 as general manager.Burke's most debated move was a deal with Boston in 2009 when he acquired forward Phil Kessel for two first-round draft picks and a second-round selection. The Bruins used the picks to select star forward Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight.Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul called the timing of the dismissal "weird.""We haven't made the playoffs in however many years so the blame is falling right now on the GM," he said. "He's the guy the brought a lot of us in and we didn't get the job done."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- On April 28, 2017, the Celtics ended the Bulls’ lone season of what Rajon Rondo brilliantly called “The Three Alphas,” closing out the first-round playoff series in six games.
As the Bulls begin their 54th season in franchise history Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., only Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio remain from that roster.
When John Paxson first succeeded Jerry Krause in April 2003, he took two years to similarly flip the roster, keeping only Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.
This makeover was Paxson’s doing, beginning with the June 2017 trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. His last complete overhaul produced 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons, albeit with only five series victories in that span.
Wednesday night begins the quest for sustained success.
“We have revamped this roster in a big way and a way in that we can look at this team and we see real talent,” Paxson said back on the team’s media day in late September. “We see a versatile roster. We see depth on this roster. We see some leadership on this roster which we haven’t had.
“And because of that our goals this year are really simple. First and foremost, we want to compete at a high, high level. And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal. (Coach) Jim (Boylen) talks about it. He’s not afraid of it. And our guys through their work have shown us that they want to make that commitment. So we feel good about that.”
There’s plenty to feel good about during a preseason. That’s when each team’s regular-season record is unblemished. The tests start for real against the Hornets, followed by Friday’s visit to Memphis.
Four of the Bulls’ first five games are on the road but all are against teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season. Saturday’s home opener is against the defending NBA champion Raptors, who defeated the Pelicans in overtime Tuesday night in their first game since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers.
Plenty has to go right for the Bulls to make the jump from 22 victories to the playoffs. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to step towards stardom. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young need to continue being the low-maintenance complementary pieces they've shown to be during their careers. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. need to stay healthy. Coby White and Kris Dunn need to contribute off the bench.
Still, the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open. The Bulls know this. It’s why Boylen indeed gave voice to the goal on that same September media day.
“Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs,” Boylen said then. “And every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team. Every day to work like we’re a playoff-bound team. I’m excited for that. I think that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way that we were going to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, I hope we can win 10 more games or we hope we can be better.’ We want to get to the mountain top.’’
The games count for real starting Wednesday. It’s time to start climbing.
According to David Kaplan, the Cubs have made their decision on a new manager. And to no surprise, they've landed on David Ross.
Highly placed source has confirmed to me David Ross is expected to be named Cubs manager this week. His agent has been discussing contractual terms with Theo Epstein. Deal is almost done. More on @ESPN1000 at 9 am. On @NBCSChicago + https://t.co/VqUFW8rK8r throughout the day.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) October 23, 2019
Cubs made their decision late yesterday afternoon and the other candidates have been informed they are indeed out. David Ross is the choice. @ESPNChiCubs joins me at 9:25 on @ESPN1000. Story coming on @NBCSChicago and the MyTeams app.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) October 23, 2019
Ross was widely speculated as the heir apparent to Joe Maddon and that's exactly how the situation has played out. The team also interviewed current bench coach Mark Loretta, first-base coach Will Venable and former Cubs player and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Ross retired after the 2016 season and has spent the last three seasons working in a special assistant role in Theo Epstein's front office while also serving as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN. He has not coached or managed at any level.
During his two years as a player with the Cubs, Ross was an integral part of changing the culture inside the clubhouse and is revered as a legendary leader to all the young players that came up and helped end the 108-year championship drought. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant affectionately dubbed him "Grandpa Rossy" and he rode that popularity on the shoulders of his teammates in a Rudy-esque celebration after Game 7 and then a stint on "Dancing with the Stars." Every time he is shown on the video board at Wrigley Field, it elicits a deafening cheer from Cubs fans.
Even three years since he last donned the uniform, Ross' impact remains and the Cubs have been searching for the type of clubhouse leadership he provided. Earlier this season, Javy Baez brought up Ross unprompted, mentioning advice from his former teammate that he still thinks about on a daily basis.
The question was never really if and more about when Ross was going to get a chance to manage the Cubs in the future. Just last fall, he was brought up as a potential option to replace Brandon Hyde as Maddon's bench coach, but Ross still wanted to spend time with family in retirement and wasn't yet ready to commit to the grind of a long season.
Still, Epstein mentioned at the GM Meetings last November that he and the front office were pushing Ross to be around the team more in 2019. GM Jed Hoyer followed that up at the Winter Meetings in December talking about how much of an impact Ross has on these players and the level of trust that's already inherent within this group.
Apparently, Ross is now willing and able to put in the 7-to-8 month time commitment to step in as the Cubs' new manager. When it was officially announced Maddon would not be returning, Ross was on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and expressed interest in the job and Epstein confirmed the next day Ross was on the team's list of managerial candidates.
Epstein mentioned he would prefer hiring a manager with big-league experience and the main theme of his end-of-season press conference was all about change, not hanging their hats on 2016 and climbing out of the "winner's trap." But they still opted for Ross as the organization's new field general.
"I always have greater comfort level hiring for roles in which the person has done the role before, especially with manager," Epstein said on the final day of September. "I think there are ways for that to be overcome. There’s a lot of different ways to get experience in this game. Beliefs, skills, personal attributes, those can outweigh a lack of experience, but experience certainly helps.
“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him, I would say. His connection to the players on this team, and especially his connection to the 2016 team, are not necessarily assets that distinguish him. Those are not necessarily things that are gonna be important to us.
“I think Rossy is a really attractive candidate, and he’s gonna be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major league manager given his skills, given his experiences, given his world-view, given what he knows about winning, all those things.”
We now know how that evaluation process has played out.
The question now becomes — how would the Cubs players handle Ross as a manager, moving from friend and teammate to boss?
We'll find out in the coming months.