NHL-Maple Leafs fire Brian Burke as general manager

By Steve Keating

TORONTO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Toronto Maple Leafs fired President and General Manager Brian Burke on Wednesday in a shock move just days before the National Hockey League returns to action following a bitter labor dispute with players.

Assistant General Manager Dave Nonis was introduced as Burke's replacement during a news conference at the team's arena. Burke will remain with the team as a senior advisor.

Burke arrived in Toronto to great fanfare in 2008, heralded as the architect who would rebuild the storied franchise to its former glory and bring the hockey-mad city its first Stanley Cup since 1967.

But in four seasons under Burke's watch the Maple Leafs failed to make the playoffs.

The Maple Leafs, who last year were rated by Forbes as the first ice hockey team to be worth $1 billion, have not made the playoffs since 2004 and are coming off a 13th place finish in the 15-team Eastern Conference.

Burke, who was also general manager for the United States national men's ice hockey team that won the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, won a Stanley Cup as general manager of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

He also served as general manager of the Hartford Whalers and Vancouver Canucks. (Reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Frank Pingue)