Brian Burke on Stan Kasten.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke knows new Dodgers co-owner Stan Kasten well. He was the GM of the Vancouver Canucks during Kasten’s four-year tenure as president of the Atlanta Thrashers from 1999-2003. The two have stayed close since, and Burke had nothing but good things to say about Kasten on Thursday.

“He’s one of the smartest people I know,” said Burke, who earned his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1981.

“He’s a master at operating teams,” Burke said, citing Kasten’s track record as president of the Atlanta Braves, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the NHL’s Thrashers — simultaneously, for a time. “No one’s done that ever.”

Beyond that, Burke said, “he can speak to people at every level, from the multi-billionaire to the guy who sells hot dogs.”

That’s why Kasten has been in demand for a number of ownership-level positions since stepping down as president of the Washington Nationals in 2010.

“In the last few years he’s been approached by a double-digit number of owners in all four leagues,” Burke said. “This is a big-time guy. This is a high first-round pick.”

So why the Dodgers?

“You’re talking about an iconic brand — truly historic, truly worldwide,” Burke said. “It has worldwide recognition, like the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you’re talking baseball, if it’s not the Yankees, it’s the Red Sox or the Dodgers.”

For the record, Burke’s son-in-law works in the Red Sox’s front office.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.