Burke takes leave to help lead Hockey Canada at World Jr. Championship

BY foxsports • December 15, 2014

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Like many NHL executives, Sean Burke has professional goals that extend beyond his current duties as assistant to general manager Don Maloney and Coyotes goalies coach. Over the next three weeks, he'll have a chance to build his resume.

Burke is taking a mini-leave from the Coyotes to serve on the management team of Hockey Canada's Junior National Team. Burke spent this past weekend at the team's training camp in Toronto as final roster cuts were made. He returned to Arizona for the Coyotes game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday but will rejoin Team Canada on Dec. 24 and remain with it as it competes in the IIHF World Junior Championship, Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal

"Not every team would be as willing to give me this opportunity," Burke said. "It's nice that (coach) Dave (Tippett) and Don have said 'This is good for you, go get some experience.'"

Burke will work with a management team that also includes Bruce Hamilton (also the owner, president and GM of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets), Hockey Canada vice president of hockey operations, Scott Salmond, and director of player personnel, Ryan Jankowski. He will also be around the coaches and the players plenty.

"Obviously, any time you play with Team Canada the pressure is ramped up," said Burke, who represented Canada in the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics. "Being a former player who has been around for a while, maybe I can just get a pulse on the team, provide whatever experience I have and be a go-between for management the coaches and the players."

It's no secret that Burke, who is in the final year of his contract with the Coyotes, would like to step into a management role in the NHL some day. He was in the running to become president of Hockey Canada this summer before the program selected Tom Renney. But the world junior championship will also provide invaluable information for the Coyotes. 

"It's like a guy who plays in a band and goes off and does a solo project every once in a while," Burke said. "You get to learn from other really good management people, see really good coaching staffs and get a handle on young players who may be draft eligible or who have been drafted. 

"Maybe those are players you'll be considering in a trade down the road. There's a wealth of information you can gain in all these areas and it's a lot of information that other people don't have the opportunity to get because I'm around the team day-in and day-out."

OILERS at COYOTES

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Injuries: Edmonton: F Benoit Pouliot (foot), F Boyd Gordon (back) and D Nikita Nikitin (back) are on IR. D Oscar Klefbom (foot) is day to day. Arizona: D Brandon Gormley (leg) is on IR. F Lauri Korpikoski (lower body) is day to day.
Season series: Arizona leads, 3-0.
Quick facts: Edmonton fired coach Dallas Eakins om Monday with the Oilers sitting dead last in the Western Conference. GM Craig MacTavish will assume coaching duties until further notice. Eakins was Edmonton's fifth coach in seven seasons. Edmonton hasn't made the playoffs since 2006... The Oilers have just one win in their last 16 games (1-11-4) and have been shut out four times this season. ... Edmonton ranks in the bottom three of the NHL in goals per game (2.10), (3.32), power play percentage (12.9) and 5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio (0.65).

Burke set up a practice and game approach for the Coyotes' goalies before he left on Dec. 11 for training camp and he'll do the same when the tournament begins. 

"(Assistant) Newell Brown is the father of a goaltender so I'm leaving it in good hands," Burke said. "Let's face it, we've got an excellent coaching staff that won't miss me while I'm gone and if Tip really needs me to, I can always jump on a plane and get back because the tournament is in North America."

Burke was named to Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence management group in the summer of 2013. The program oversees hockey operations for the men's under-17, under-18, and under-20 programs. The roster he helped pick includes Coyotes 2013 top pick Max Domi, who is currently playing with the OHL's London Knights where he is second on the team with 58 points (17 goals) in 27 games.

What happens after this season when Burke's contract expires is unclear, but Burke is more concerned with getting Mike Smith back on track and keeping Devan Dubnyk in the groove he's found.

"There are a lot of things that are a bigger deal than my personal contract," he said. "I always believe you work hard and give what you have every day. Like everybody around here, I can do more and then we'll just worry about how that plays out down the road.

"We all have personal goals and think about where we'd like to get to but a lot of times, if you're not doing what you need to day to day, those things can pass you by. I've been very well taken care of in the time I've been here. I don't spend any nights worrying about what's coming."

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