He’ll be back – not as a goaltender anymore but as a coach or executive somewhere. His vast hockey knowledge and the respect he earned and friendships he forged during 20 years stopping pucks at the highest level would make him an asset to any NHL organization.
He’ll enjoy some down time first.
“I really feel there’ll be a time I want to get back into the competitive side, in coaching or as a general manager,” Burke said from his Scottsdale, Ariz., home. “I’ve always felt I’d like to be a GM some day, but I want to spend the next year or two putting a lot of time in with my kids.”
He intends to stay in the sport on a part-time basis for now. There have been a couple of offers for television work in Canada, and the Phoenix Coyotes have approached him about working in public relations with the team.
Burke, 40, spent more than four seasons towards the end of his playing career with the Coyotes and his family is comfortable in Arizona.
“There’s great weather, lot of friends and the kids have been in the same schools for years now so it’s home for us now,” he said.
Burke played junior hockey in Toronto and joined Canada’s national team in 1986 intent on becoming an Olympian.
“Going to Russia in the Iron Curtain days four times was something I’ll never forget,” he said. “The world has opened up so much since then.”
Prague and any place in Switzerland – those were some of his favourite places.
“I was young and to be able to see those cities while play hockey was a pretty nice way to do it,” he said.
He succeeded in getting to his Winter Games in 1988 in Calgary and afterwards went 10-1-0 down the NHL stretch to help the Devils into the playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved to New Jersey.
The six-foot-four goalie went on to play for Hartford, where both his children were born (daughter Andie is 14 now and son Brendan is 12), Philadelphia, Carolina, Vancouver, Florida, Phoenix, Tampa Bay and he spent his final season in Los Angeles. He was a team leader wherever he went.
He was runner-up for the King Clancy Trophy for humanitarian endeavours in 1993-94, appeared in the 1989, 1995 and 2002 all-star games and was a finalist in voting for the Lester B. Pearson Award in 2001-2002 for best player in the eyes of his peers.
He played 820 NHL games in all, which puts him 12th on the all-time list. He’s tied with Tom Barrasso for 29th in all-time shutouts with 38. Only five active goalies have more than 38.
He continued to represent Canada over the years. He appeared in more than 100 games between 1986 and 1991 as the national team’s No. 1 goalie, and he helped Canada win silver at the 1992 Olympics and gold at the 1997 world championships.
Whether at the NHL or international level, it’s the camaraderie with teammates he’ll miss most.
“I don’t have just one or two highlights to talk about,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate.
“When you play a long time, there’s so many great experiences. I had an opportunity to play so much international hockey as well as NHL hockey. I feel like I’ve had two great careers. The combination of those two experiences was wonderful.”
Burke isn’t picking a 2008 Stanley Cup winner yet.
“Whatever I predict, go against it because I’m never right,” he offered.