Brian Burke had been rumored for months to be on the outs with the Vancouver Canucks, so it wasn't as shocking Monday when the team announced it wouldn't renew his contract as president and general manager.
But when the decision finally came it was no less baffling as the club dumped the architect of the team's rise from an overpaid, cliquey, money-losing team to an entertaining, provincially loved, hugely profitable club that rose to among the top three teams in the Western Conference in six years.
After Canucks head coach Marc Crawford signed a contract extension just before the new year and no progress was made to re-sign Burke, Vancouver media swarmed over speculation and conspiracies as to why Burke's job was in jeopardy. The No. 1 cause has been cited as a rift between him and Stanley McCammon, chief executive of Seattle-based Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Canucks.