There's a scene in the movie The Untouchables, when Al Capone takes a baseball bat to the head of an unsuspecting compadre, a pivotal event in the movie that leaves many sitting around the board room table sitting in stunned silence.
Perhaps this clip will best explain the power of the Big Boss, making sure the message gets across... (little children and the sensitive should NOT click on the little red square with the arrow below)
Kind of a similar event (metaphorically speaking of course) took place in Toronto today in a little gathering of the gang at MLSE.
By now you know who took the bat to the head.
And while there has been no confirmation, we're pretty sure that WE might have an idea which Board member played the role of Alphonse.
(Collective belief is that a few of the Board Members were inclined to remove the presence of Burke around the MLSE bunkers, eventually as we found out today, reaching a majority opinion)
And if you're looking for the guy sitting in an uncomfortable silence, look no further than Dave Nonis, who went to work as Brian Burke's right hand man and before the noon hour had arrived, found himself Boss of all sub bosses...
Welcome Leaf fans to the return of the Ghost of Harold Ballard, where decisions are made that don't seem to make much rhyme, nor reason. Decisions that leave you either shaking your head in wonderment, or for those that don't live in Toronto, or support the Leafs, leave you laughing maniacally, much like Al did in one of those anger management moments.
The dismissal of Brian Burke today by the Maple Leafs was about as bizarre an event as one could conjure up (well, then again these are the Leafs and well there are standards of bizarro that they frequently do seem to test), not so much that the deed was done, but by the timing of it all.
With a shiny new (if somewhat delayed season of dysfunction set to get underway, all be it four months late) the concept that the Leafs made a decision to change their leadership as the team heads into a truncated training camp is baffling at best, astounding to most that follow hockey.
But a reminder, this is MLSE, where the motto on the door, surely is "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet".
It would seem that some of that much cherished truculence that Burke often mentioned about his hockey team, rubbed some of the Board the wrong way when provided by Burke himself, his brusque demeanour and apparently salty language gaining him a reprimand last fall.
Shocking we know, but it would seem that in Leaf land, bad words and a flash of Irish temper is not a welcome thing where civilized men conduct business.
On the record of Brian Burke's resume in Toronto a good case for change could be made, playoffs are but a rumour to the faithful of the Blue and White, they've gone through no shortage of "Goaltenders of tomorrow" each one losing confidence quicker than the last.
Burke heard the season ticket base rise up in rebellion at his tardiness in discarding head coach Ron Wilson, the chants of Fire Wilson probably still rattling around those rafters at the Air Canada Centre.
There's been the handling of Nazem Kadri (and all that TV studio advice from a guy named Don) and any number of other troubles that dotted his time as the Grand Poobah of all things Maple Leaf.
Still, in a season where surely no one expects much of anything except for a mad dash for playoff positioning til April, dispensing with the architect of the team that will move forward into the abyss seems a tad strange.
Especially, when as has been pointed out by more than a few observers, the bulk of the crew remaining behind, were hand picked by the guy you just whacked with the baseball bat.
Surely, if he were to be taken out, it should have been either at the end of the last season or when the lockout started, allowing his replacement, in this case Dave Nonis, a bit more lead time to plan that always promised Stanley Cup parade down Yonge Street.
The Leafs always seem to find ways to grab the spotlight, they at times appear to be like a kid that craves attention, in this case, grabbing as much of the spotlight of the return of hockey as they could, in as short a period of time as possible.
It will be interesting to see how Dave Nonis takes charge of the rather strange situation delivered to him by the MLSE Board on Wednesday, though judging by how his predecessor was taken out, sitting with your back to the wall may be the best strategy for Nonis.
Some of the more informative and interesting of reviews of today's developments can be found below:
National Post-- Brian Burke firing about more than Leafs' on-ice struggles
National Post-- Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke fired: "There's no good time to do this"
Toronto Star-- Brian Burke fired: An era ends: Cox
Toronto Star-- Brian Burke fired: Leafs stunned by ouster of Toronto GM
Toronto Sun-- Leafs simply didn't want Burke as face of franchise anymore
Globe and Mail-- Leafs' owners channel their inner Ballard with Burke firing
Globe and Mail-- The curtain finally falls on Burke's drama
CBC-- Brian Burke firing was personal
CBC-- Brian Burke clashed with new MLSE Board Members
Yahoo Sports-- Why Brian Burke had to go, and how his Toronto Maple Leaf Legacy can be saved
TSN-- Maple Leafs Replace Burke With Nonis As New GM
TSN-- Burke tenure with Leafs falls short of expectations
Sportsnet-- Why Now?!
Sportsnet-- MLSE Explanation needed
Sportsnet-- Luongo Affair Cost Burke His Job