Tag:Brian Burke
Posted on: February 3, 2012 11:21 am
 

Burke discusses support for an openly gay player

By Brian Stubits

There are many sides to Brian Burke, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager who makes as much news by himself as seemingly the other 29 GMs in the NHL make combined.

It's not always for him being a little ... odd in his behavior as a GM either. He is just as known for a cause that's very near and dear to his heart, the gay-rights movement. That was something he became involved with after his son Brendan came out as a homosexual man while a student at Miami University and working with the hockey team.

This weekend marks the two-year anniversary since Brendan died in a car crash in Indiana. It was a sad day not only for the Burkes and all who knew Brendan, but for hockey and the sports world too. Brendan was a pioneer and certainly courageous for standing up for the gay-rights movement in sports the way he did.

Today, his father continues to carry on the legacy of his son, if you will. He recently joined CBC's George Stromboulopoulos on his show and explained that he doesn't believe it will be as hard for a gay athlete to come out in the NHL as everybody thinks. He says he knows the Maple Leafs wouldn't have any problems.

I didn't imagine today that I would take parental advice from Brian Burke, but beyond the messages that he would welcome a gay player on his team and how he believes acceptance is greater than people believe, he really did present what I think to be a good message about parenting. He was in a situation when Brendan came out that he had no regrets about anything he had ever said.

H/t to Chris Peters of The United States of Hockey (excellent read)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:48 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:30 pm
 

Trade deadline primer: Will Jackets move Carter?

The Jackets might move Carter, but can they? (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

There's no time quite like the present. Isn't that what they say?

The present now just happens to be trade deadline month in the NHL. The actual day isn't for another few weeks, Feb. 27, but the whole month will be full of he said/she said, rumors that make you say hmm and others that make you say huh?

It seems like it's been a while since there were some real blockbuster deals looming in the NHL. It's not often there are teams willing to move the big names, the star players. That doesn't mean there weren't some key trades made, evident after the fact. In all, there were four players traded last February that were in the All-Star Game this season -- Joffrey Lupul to the Maple Leafs, Brian Elliott to the Avalanche, James Neal to the Penguins and Dennis Wideman to the Capitals.

There were certainly other moves that were crucial too. Just look at what the Bruins did, acquiring Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley last February, all important to their run to the Stanley Cup last season and in the case of Kelly and Peverley, the Bruins' push this season.

But none of those really stole the show. Not the way this year has the potential to. Or at least had until recently.

A little more than a week ago it looked like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Tim Gleason and maybe even Shane Doan were possible targets to move. Circumstances have changed or the teams have reaffirmed those guys aren't on the move.

Because of parity across the league partly as a byproduct of the points system in place today, there are a lot less sellers. Despite the odds of teams being five or more points back making the playoffs being long, clubs often times refuse to give in and admit they should reshuffle their organization.

It ends up with teams that should be looking to add, teams that shouldn't be looking to do anything and some teams that should probably be looking to sell all thinking the same: Let's add.

"Right now there are different teams trying to make a trade, but the problem is there are only two or three teams that are even willing to make a trade for a draft choice or prospect, meaning they don't think they are going to make the playoffs," Nashville GM David Poile told NHL.com. "What I want now versus what I can later are two different things because of the parity you have in the NHL.

More Trade deadline

One team that is painfully aware it doesn't stand a shot this season is the Columbus Blue Jackets. They are 11 points out ... of 29th place in the league. It's 23 points to the eighth seed in the West. After an offseason that saw them acquire Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, that's a horrible disappointment. You know what that means ...

Yes, the Jackets will be sellers. And, even though they acquired him just seven months ago, all indications are that they would like to part ways with Carter. It's really been a wash of a season for him, fighting through injuries but still only scoring 10 goals with seven assists in 30 games.

“There’s talk about a lot of guys [in here] right now. Our team, with the way the season has gone -- the injuries, the standings, and stuff -- I don’t think it should come as a surprise to anybody on our team if they end up [in rumors],” Carter told the Columbus Dispatch.

The massive hurdle with Carter is figuring out how movable he is. His contract runs through the 2021-22 season with an annual cap hit of $5,272,727 (courtesy of Cap Geek). For a player that's been snake-bitten by injuries this season and hasn't seemed to want to be where he is at all this season, that becomes a tough sell, especially when you consider what the Jackets will want in return. They need everything, but primary concerns are in net and getting better on the blue line.

Still, he's only 27 and has shown with his time in Philadelphia that he can contribute a lot offensively. This will be the first season since 06-07 he didn't score at least 29 goals and more than 50 points. There could be some GMs out there willing to take the risks for the potential, which is still high.

If it does happen, it will be a not-so classic case of buy high, sell low for Columbus -- granted, low with Carter is probably still kind of high. That's not the best way to move on up in the world.

A good chunk of the rest of the Columbus roster will be available if anybody wants to take a shot, too. They'd probably love to move Steve Mason, but it's tough to envision anybody wanting him at this point. Rick Nash and Wisniewski are probably untouchables, Nash being the heart and soul of the otherwise faceless franchise and Wisniewski being the biggest player at their position of need. But the other guys like Antoine Vermette, Vaclav Prospal and more? Take your best shot.

The Blue Jackets aren't the only team known to be exploring the market. Tuomo Ruutu is a hot candidate to be moved from Carolina with the Hurricanes last in the East.

"I've heard rumors I'm going to every team in the NHL," Ruutu told Chip Patterson of the News & Observer this week. "I must be really playing well."

Obviously Ruutu isn't going to get people's gears going, but he could be a good addition for somebody, assuming the price is right. It's unlikely he's going to give any team top-six production, but he's not worthless either. One of the concerns is that he becomes a UFA this offseason, so it could be a rental situation.

The potential is endless, though. The Canucks have some expendables in their quest to bolster the roster for this year's push. Mason Raymond is a target of many. Some still think they should move Cory Schneider, perhaps the hottest backup goalie in the league. The Stars have to decide what side they're on, and if it's the seller side, Brenden Morrow could be up for grabs. The Canadiens have Travis Moen, Hal Gill and Chris Campoli. The Oilers could move Ryan Smyth again. It goes on and on.

Of course we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Burke always seems to find a way to get in the big trade action.

But it will probably all come back to the biggest, most obvious seller of them all in Columbus.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:44 am
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:32 pm
 

Burke admits to complaining to CBC about Cherry

Burke says Cherry and host Ron MacLean have 'vicious and cutting [remarks] on players and coach.' (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

We relayed to you a story over the weekend of Don Cherry saying that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke isn't fond of the things Cherry has said about the Leafs and that Burke was even considering going to the CBC with his complaints.

Consider it done. From the Toronto Sun:

Maple Leafs president Brian Burke has admitted he did complain to the CBC about a Coach’s Corner segment in a bid to get them to “stop” the “vicious” criticism of his players and coach.

But, he said, it was not a personal complaint against Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, but was in the interest of protecting his team.

“I don’t dislike either of them,” Burke told QMI Agency Monday.

During the all-star weekend in Ottawa, Burke wouldn’t discuss whether he filed a complaint, saying the mid-season event was “hardly the time or place for a beef like this.”

Burke said he feels his confidence was somewhat betrayed.

“This is nuts,” said Burke, adding he “raised (the) issue quietly and professionally” and then “they leak it. Nuts.”

Nuts sort of describes the whole story, doesn't it?

Burke is an old-school guy, from lamenting the rats running the league to challenging Kevin Lowe to a fight in a barn set in the backwoods. An affront to him or his family (in this case, his team) will be dealt with.

One of the affronts in this case was Cherry referring to Leafs coach Ron Wilson as a Napoleon ype, saying “I don’t like him ... I don’t like the way he treats the players.”

But complaining about a national commentator's opinion of your team and coach? It's so hard for me to figure out when Burke is being professional and when he's being petulant. I mean I guess he could have challenged Cherry to a fight in a barn.

Everybody knows what/who Cherry is anymore, he's loud for the sake of being loud, his job is to entertain while also being a pundit. I don't know of anybody who puts much stock into what Cherry says in his weekly Coach's Corner segments. Except now for Burke.

The whole story underscores something that I find rather impressive: Burke's ability to succeed despite caring so much what others say. Usually, that's not a trait that will help somebody, particularly in a business like hockey in a market such as Toronto.

More from Eye on Hockey

Cherry on Burke's criticism
Burke talks decline of enforcers
Burke nearly fought Lowe in a barn

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 29, 2012 3:16 pm
 

Brian Burke not happy with Don Cherry's criticism

Don Cherry is never shy to share his thoughts. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

One thing you hear most every player, coach and general manager say often is that they don't read the newspapers or listen to sports radio. If they did they might go crazy.

Maybe that explains it for Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, because he pretty clearly pays attention to what is said. When the Leafs announced a contract extension for coach Ron Wilson, they seemed to release the news purposely on Christmas to burn the Toronto media. His battles with that group have been pretty well known.

He also appears to have a problem with CBC icon (or eye sore for the fashionistas out there) Don Cherry. Granted, he's not the only one in that department, but still.

“I like Brian Burke. I have nothing against Brian Burke,” said Cherry in an exclusive sit-down interview with the Ottawa Sun on Saturday. “But Brian Burke doesn’t like me. That’s the sad thing. We used to be the best of friends. I used to get St. Patrick’s Day cards from him ... no more.

“Brian Burke does not like what I say about the Leafs. But what am I supposed to say about them? They haven’t made the playoffs in [seven] years. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I guess he doesn’t like it. But I am what I am.”

Sun writer Tim Baines reports in the same story that Burke has become so upset that he has been thinking over taking his gripes about Cherry's critiques to the CBC.

Can you imagine the response that Burke would get if he went through with going to CBC brass? Imagine what Cherry would say in his next edition of Coach's Corner.

The kicker is that Cherry admits to being a Leafs fans behind only his love for the Bruins, the team he played his only NHL game with and coached for five seasons, including two Stanley Cup Final losses. But in case it hasn't been clear for years, Cherry calls things like he sees them.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 25, 2012 12:48 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Maple Leafs give Liles four-year extension

Liles averages 21:32 of ice time this season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Toronto Maple Leafs went out and acquired John-Michael Liles from the Colorado Avalanche last summer in an attempt to further bolster their blue line. So it makes sense that a half a season later they are signing him to a four-year contract extension.

Yes, the Leafs locked in Liles until he's 35 years old with a new deal just as the NHL hits the All-Star break. His current contract, which runs out after this season, has him making $4.2 million per season. His new contract will pay an average salary of $3.875 million according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

"Not gonna lie...it's been a pretty good day," Liles tweeted while wishing his All-Star teammates the best this weekend in Ottawa.

Liles taking a deal that pays him less than what he's currently making is interesting. To me it shows how much players can value the security of a long-term deal, in this case four more years of remaining in Toronto.

Interestingly, Liles has been out of the lineup since a Dec. 22 game against the Buffalo Sabres. Like so many other players in the NHL these days, post-concussion symptoms have kept him off the ice.

But before the setback, Liles was giving the Leafs solid production on the back end with four goals and 17 assists in 34 games.

With Liles locked in for a few more years, it gives the Maple Leafs a little bit of a logjam at defense -- although not a terribly big one. But it could possibly make one of the defensemen expendable if GM Brian Burke wants to execute one of his patented trades.

Do you like the deal for Liles?

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:44 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 2:39 pm
 

Report: Winter Classic at Big House finalized

By Brian Stubits

You can cue up Hail to the Victors for next New Year's Day even if the Michigan Wolverines aren't playing in the Rose Bowl.

It has been in the works for some time and now Ansar Khan of MLive.com is reporting that the deal to have the next Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium is done, agreed upon. All that's left is an announcement.

The NHL, the Detroit Red Wings and the University of Michigan have finalized a deal to hold next season’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, a source told MLive.com.

The long-rumored matchup between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will take place on Jan. 1, 2013. The Red Wings lobbied to have the game at Comerica Park, but the NHL couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hold this annual outdoor spectacle at "The Big House," where it is expected to attract a record crowd in excess of 110,000.

Khan goes on to report that the announcement won't be made until early February for reasons including the All-Star break and the Red Wings being on the road. He also writes that Comerica Park in Detroit will have its own rink where the other events of the "celebration of hockey" will be held, namely the Alumni Game.

That's an idea I love about this, but I'm sure Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru, won't appreciate double the work. It gives the Classic a presence in Detroit as well as Ann Arbor.

Now of course the parties involved are denying the report. Here's what Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Globe and Mail: “If and when anything is a ‘done deal’ regarding the Winter Classic, it will be announced. We have made no announcements yet.”

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke echoed toed the company line: “We have not yet received a formal invitation from the NHL. Until we do, this is speculation in my mind.”

University of Michigan AD Dave Brandon confirmed to the AP that there are talks still ongoing, but like the NHL, says it's not exactly done yet. Personally, there has been so much smoke to this for weeks, I think they are just not willing to confirmit yet and want it to wait until the announcement is made.

As soon as the NHL does make it official, this is groundbreaking for the league. It's the first time our neighbors to the North are going to be involved in what has thus far been just an American spectacle. Secondly, it will obliterate the record for attendance at an NHL game set in the inaugural Classic in Buffalo.

I'll be curious to see how much University of Michigan is brought to the game. The Wild card there is how the football team does. If they do win the Big Ten and are playing in the Rose Bowl, it will be very interesting. You will have the game in a college town where their school is playing in the Granddaddy of Them All.

But if Michigan isn't in the Rose Bowl or some other New Year's Day bowl, you could have the possibility of the band being at the game and blending the worlds of hockey and college football. I think it would be really cool if the Red Wings came out like the Michigan football team does and have a banner specially made that says "GO RED -- M Club Supports You" that the players tap with their sticks as they go under.

Either way, it looks like they'll have a long time to plan the details with this announcement looking like it will come way before the NHL's announcement this past September for the most recent Classic playing in Philadelphia.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 11:44 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:45 am
 

Report: Interest in Avery goes up, but no waivers

By Brian Stubits

The twists and turns of a Sean Avery season. Aren't they fun?

Even when he's down in the AHL (where the orange juice refills might or might not be free), he's making noise. Well OK, he's not making the noise, but noise is being made about him. Or something like that.

Twice this season, the 29 teams not named the New York Rangers had a chance to claim Avery off of waivers and have him for their own but passed. Not even two weeks since his most recent demotion to the AHL Connecticut Whale, there is reportedly interest from at least one team to get Avery now.

According to the New York Post, the Rangers have been asked to place Avery on re-entry waivers again so that he can be claimed and wear another team's sweater in the NHL. It's obvious Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn't have any room for Avery on his bench, so why not acquiesce and let Avery go on his merry way? Two words: cap space.

Sources have told The Post general manager Glen Sather rejected that request, instead offering to trade Avery in a minor-league deal under which the Rangers would take back additional dollars but the responsibility for placing Avery on re-entry would then pass to the acquiring club that would then bear the burden of carrying dead salary-cap space upon a claim.

...

Avery’s full cap hit for the remainder of the season is just a tick over $890,000 as of tomorrow. Therefore, the Rangers would be hit with approximately $445,000 of dead cap space upon a re-entry claim.

The NHL has calculated that scenario would theoretically cost the Rangers $2 million in available space at the Feb. 27 trade deadline: $1 million of accrued space for which the club would be charged plus $1 million it therefore would not save.

That's a pretty penny to spend just to let a player loose. Now we'll find out how interested this mystery suitor/suitors is/are by the willingness to give up something in return to the Rangers.

Trying to think of who could be interested in signing Avery, I would take a Wild guess and say we could exclude the Toronto Maple Leafs after Brian Burke's recent "anti-rat" rant.

I'm not a Rangers fan, about the only people who seem to still love Avery, but for some reason that I still cannot pinpoint, I've come to like Avery a little bit. Maybe it's just that I'm a devil's advocate. I'm not sure. But I'd be interested in seeing him get a fresh start somewhere else. When he was playing, Avery was in good behavior this season for the Rangers. There might still be a fourth-line spot for Avery somewhere in the league.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 3:24 pm
 

Brian Burke talks decline of enforcer



By: Adam Gretz


The Toronto Maple Leafs placed forward Colton Orr on waivers Wednesday afternoon. He cleared on Thursday, going unclaimed by the 29 other teams in the NHL, paving the way for him to be assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. This development does not please Leafs general manager Brian Burke, a point that he made very clear as he addressed the media on Thursday afternoon talking about the transaction, as well as the decline of the enforcer role in the NHL.

Orr, of course, is one of the NHL's top fighters, and according to his player page at hockeyfights.com has been involved in over 110 fights at the NHL level, including preseason, regular season and postseason games. Compare that to the 11 goals he's scored in 378 career games with the Bruins, Rangers and Maple Leafs, and the six minutes of ice-time that he's averaged per game throughout his career, and it's quite obvious as to what his role is and what's expected of him.

That role is one that has been going away in recent years across the league, and that's a development that is not sitting well with the Leafs' general manager.

Said Burke on Thursday, “The only lament I have on this is the fear that if we don’t have guys looking after each other, that the rats will take this game over.

“I know the Greenpeace folks will be happy with this, but I wonder where we’re going, where Brendan Shanahan’s getting six hearings every two days … I wonder, the accountability in our game and the notion that players can stick up for themselves and each other, I wonder where we’re going with that.”

It became clear that there simply wasn't room for Orr on the Maple Leafs roster, as he's appeared in just five games this season, playing a total of just 22:44. To put that total in some perspective, there are currently 46 regular NHL players that average more minutes than that every single game.

Burke's biggest argument is that the role of the fighter will allow for more cheap shots on the ice because there is no fear of retribution, pointing to some of the recent plays that resulted in a suspension from the league over the past week, saying that Shanahan is the only person looking out for other players.

“Pick your poison. Pick one of the suspensions," said Burke. "And so, to me, would those guys do those things if there’s retribution available, if there’s accountability in the game? I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s just a rant that the game’s going in a direction I don’t like, but I’m troubled by this. When a player with the character of Colton Orr, when he can’t contribute in this league, then I’m not sure I like the way it’s going.”

The suggestion -- and Burke isn't the first one to put it out there -- that players like Orr, or the threat of fighting in general, acts as a deterrent to the type of cheap, dirty plays he's talking about here has always blown me away. If fighting were that sort of deterrent we would have never seen those types of things happen -- or at least not as much -- and they've always happened. They still happen, and they will continue to happen, whether fighting exists in the NHL or not. Is the game today really dirtier and filled with more cheap shots than it was 20 or 30 years ago, or when bench clearing brawls (like this one) were a common occurrence?

The other factor at work here is that it's just no longer as financially viable to carry a player that does nothing but fight on your roster. Now that the NHL has roster limits and a salary cap every roster spot and dollar spent matters. You have a limit as to what you can do, and teams are placing a larger emphasis on skating ability, speed and, of course, skill.

Orr is currently in the third year of a four-year contract that pays him $1 million per season. For a player that, again, plays about four-to-five minutes per night (when he's in the gameday lineup, that is) that's probably not the best use of your resources, an aspect that Burke also addressed.

"It’s almost like you’re adding up assets on a sheet and saying, ‘what Colton provides, does that provide the same benefit as a guy who can skate maybe better than he can?'" said Burke. "We’ve done it. We made the decision here. He hasn’t played much here. So I’m not excluding us from this remark. I just wonder where we’re going. Players, in the old days, they protected themselves. And then it evolved into players protecting their teammates. And now, I’m not sure who’s looking after them, other than (NHL disciplinarian) Brendan Shanahan. To me, it’s a dangerous turn in our game.”

It's always been clear that Burke sees a need for fighting in the NHL. It's clear based on his comments, his financial commitments to players like Orr, his comments on Thursday, and, heck, even the makeup of his rosters as a general manager, as his teams are usually near the top of the league in terms of fighting majors per season.

For a variety of reasons the game is changing, and that role is going away, and that's something that Burke is simply going to have to accept and adjust to.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com