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Burke Reacts To Steve Simmons Column

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

Insults, taunts, slurs — he takes them all with a grain of salt. But when a Toronto columnist criticized the GM’s decision to visit the Canadian troops in Afghanistan on the same day that NHL free agency began last week, Burke said Monday he was “deeply offended.”

“They ask you to go,” said Burke, who was joined on the trip by Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn. “It’s not like you call them and say, ‘Hey, it would be good PR if I went to Afghanistan.’ I didn’t tell anyone I went and I didn’t talk to anyone when I got back. I did it because it was the right thing to do.”

In a Toronto Sun column, Steve Simmons wrote that Burke affected the team’s ability to sign prized free agent Brad Richards by not being in Toronto.

Along with several other teams, the Leafs sent a management team consisting of vice-president of hockey operations Dave Nonis, assistant general manager Claude Loiselle and special advisor Cliff Fletcher to personally meet with Richards and his agent in Mississauga on July 1. While Burke was not physically there, he said he was in direct communication with his staff.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

Comments

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Steve Simmons is a world-class douche, anyway. Burke did a good thing, and to hell with anyone who’s going to criticize him for it.

Posted by AcidQueen from Raleigh NC on 07/05/11 at 01:32 AM ET

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How pissed would you be to be brad richard? Oh brian burke won’t even meet with me? How pissed would you be to his entourage? We meet him and tell him why he’s so important to the organization? Wasted time on both sides.

Posted by Keyser S. on 07/05/11 at 01:39 AM ET

mmuskrat's avatar

I agree that Steve Simmons is a douche.  He totally crossed the line by insinuating that the trip was a PR trip, and that Burke was leaving the Leafs organization hog-tied to get any work done - that’s simply not true.  I think Burke was there because he really thought it was the right thing to do, and for that reason, I’m very glad he went. 

Now, do I still disagree?  yep.  I think he should have stayed on the one out of three days of the year when he is really required to be at work.  Do I think he did it for stupid, selfish, or self-righteous reasons?  No way.  And anyway, the job got done with him on the phone, so there’s really no reason to argue or complain.  Kudos to Burke.

Posted by mmuskrat on 07/05/11 at 01:39 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I really do hate Brian Burke and to be honest, generally think very little of him.

Let’s be honest here though:  there was nothing different on that day that was going to help the Leafs.  The Leafs aren’t going to be fixed with this UFA class.

Maybe Burke even knew that.  And he’s right:  he’s not the one publicizing the visit.  So I think he went for the right reasons..

It really boggles me that anyone in the media would be dumb enough to publicly question him on this one thing.

Posted by Primis on 07/05/11 at 01:53 AM ET

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How pissed would you be to be brad richard?

Who’s Brad Richard?

Posted by Garth on 07/05/11 at 02:02 AM ET

Luongo-is-my-hero's avatar

“How pissed would you be to be brad richard?

Who’s Brad Richard?

Posted by Garth on 07/05/11 at 12:02 AM ET “

the love child of J. Jagr and L. James

Posted by Luongo-is-my-hero on 07/05/11 at 02:39 AM ET

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I’m a big Islander fan and have been a Leafs hater since the 2002 playoffs.  Having said that, I want to say how impressed I am with Brian Burke and I have a whole new opinion of the Leafs for that alone.  I think Burke should be praised and not citicized.
God Bless you Mr. Burke!!!

Posted by RogerNYLA on 07/05/11 at 03:05 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If I’m Brad Richards on the first day of free agency and get told by a team’s entourage that the GM is currently meeting with troops overseas, then I’m not pissed at all. In fact, I’m quietly respectful that he understands there are more important things than hockey and that there’s nothing more crucial about the first day of free agency than there is about the fifth.

If Brad Richards wants to throw a hissy fit because Brian Burke hasn’t dropped everything to appear at his free agency party and decides to sign elsewhere, then that’s more a reflection on Brad Richards’ character than it is on Brian Burke’s.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/05/11 at 03:18 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

How big of a douche do you have to be to make Brian Burke the good guy? This may be a record.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 07/05/11 at 03:28 AM ET

SK77's avatar

How pissed would you be to be brad richard?

Posted by Keyser S. on 07/04/11 at 11:39 PM ET

There’s no mystery to free agency. Either you want to play somewhere or you don’t.

If you (or your entourage?!) need to be stroked then go play some hoops.

Posted by SK77 on 07/05/11 at 04:12 AM ET

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So Burke went because he was asked?  And he couldn’t answer, “I’m honoured to be asked.  As you know July 1st is one of the busiest days on my work schedule.  I can make myself available on any other date.  I’m sure I can find some of the players to come along…”

This is the guy who travelled to Sweden 2 years ago on the eve of July 1 to court the twins…er, I mean Jonas Gustavsson.  Clearly this guy thinks his mere presence can make a difference.

I don’t want to sound like I’m defending Simmons though.  He is a slimy SOB.

Posted by Jerry on 07/05/11 at 04:48 AM ET

SK77's avatar

A small group of people are sounding like they haven’t spent anytime whatsoever thinking about why Burke was in Afghanistan, and not Toronto, on that day.

It was to try to show his country’s support for their troops on Canada Day when the troops are stationed so very far away from home.

No one wanted to be in Afghanistan that day—but they were. And if a few people have a problem with that, then they truly need to find a new perspective on life where professional sports does not trump all.

Posted by SK77 on 07/05/11 at 05:00 AM ET

Hippy Dave's avatar

What kind of GM isn’t at the helm during the first day of free agency???

...

An ex-GM.

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 07/05/11 at 05:37 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

So over the long weekend, Brian Burke was in communication with his management team about his business while also visiting troops in Afghanistan on a national holiday and then marching in the Toronto Pride parade in the memory of his son.

While Steve Simmons was writing a column whining about why Brian Burke wasn’t treating his job as the most important thing in the world to be obsessed about to the point he couldn’t possibly be anywhere else.

Got it.

(Besides, Brad Richards was leaning strongly toward New York all the time, so odds were that nothing Toronto could say or show in a presentation was going to make the case for him to sign there instead of with the Rangers. Make an honest attempt, that’s all you can do in that case. Burke there or not wasn’t going to make any difference.)

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 07/05/11 at 09:03 AM ET

Alan's avatar

It was pretty much inevitible that two things would happen over the course of free agency:

Brian Burke would get a smear column written about him by someone trying to stir trouble to sell papers, and Brad Richards would sign in New York.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 07/05/11 at 09:14 AM ET

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To be fair, when you have an organization with something like 36 former GMs and the current GM is a stubborn idiot, I fail to see the downside of having him in Afghanistan when decisions are made.

On a totally unrelated note, isn’t Burke planning on going to Haiti during the trade deadline?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/05/11 at 09:27 AM ET

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On a totally unrelated note, isn’t Burke planning on going to Haiti during the trade deadline?

Can’t confirm that, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be golfing come playoff time…

Posted by Garth on 07/05/11 at 09:41 AM ET

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It was to try to show his country’s support for their troops on Canada Day when the troops are stationed so very far away from home.

you do know Burke is American right?

Posted by pstumba on 07/05/11 at 11:57 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Burke has dual citizenship.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/05/11 at 12:10 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

I have a strong distaste for Burke.  He was a whiny and petulant in Vancouver, a blowhard in Anaheim who did the league a near-Lemaireian disservice with his thuggish ducks teams and their “commit 50 penalties, they’ll only call 10 anyway” mentality.  I feel he gets too much credit for recent history, when he’s been a much more likable character following his son’s trials and later death.  Even with that said, Simmons is not only an ass.  He is also wrong, in my opinion.

This idea might be anathema to those rabid leafs fans out there…  But maybe, just maybe, Burke realized one of the following:
A.  Although he was the best FA available, Brad Richards is awfully expensive and maybe overpaying to sign a 31 year old barely-elite centre isn’t the answer for the Leafs.  Richards is a piece for a team that’s almost there, the Maple Leafs aren’t, and they’re not one piece away, even if it’s a piece that fills their biggest need.  Richards is fine in NY because they think he makes them a contender.  He’d only make the leafs a playoff team that loses in the first round.
B.  If a player isn’t enticed with the idea of playing in Toronto, and most are justifiably not, the only way to get them there is to overpay them.  A guy like Richards wasn’t going to the biggest dollar at the expense of competing for a cup. 

I think its a very real possibility that Toronto was very likely NEVER in the running and Burke knew it.  He did his due diligence and made an offer and a pitch.  What more can you ask?

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 07/05/11 at 03:17 PM ET

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Burke has dual citizenship.

true, but he was born and raised in the US, and has been and continues to be a big factor in US hockey. Most people I know who have dual citizenship do it for work purposes and wouldn’t consider their second citizenship their home country.

Posted by pstumba on 07/05/11 at 03:40 PM ET

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Posted by pstumba on 07/05/11 at 01:40 PM ET

So?  What does that have to do with supporting troops who are in service abroad?

I think shanetx is right.  Burke knew he wasn’t going to land Richards, especially once people started talking about the Kings and Rangers offering heavily front-loaded contracts, the likes of which Burke has come out sternly against, and he knew as well as most people did that the UFAs who signed on Friday were going to be grossly overpaid.

And let’s be honest, the Leafs aren’t one piece away from being a true contender, so he didn’t need to be in the trenches fighting over 2nd tier defensemen.

And frankly, if your management team approaches a player to sign him and he balks because Burke is overseas supporting the f*cking troops, then do you honestly want that guy on your team?

Simmons is a piece of shit for questions Burke doing that.

Posted by Garth on 07/05/11 at 05:17 PM ET

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