Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Burke Worried “The Rats” Are Taking Over The Game

from the CP at TSN,

On a day the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager sent enforcer Colton Orr to the American Hockey League, he bemoaned the fact there doesn’t appear room for such players in today’s game.

Burke says he fears “the rats” are taking over the sport.

League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has been busy handling suspensions over the last week and Burke believes it’s largely a result of a lack of on-ice accountability.

a bit more

added 12:49pm, via Sportsnet,

The Toronto Maple Leafs general manager addressed the media on Thursday, one day after the team put Colton Orr on waivers. The diminishing role of enforcers in the league is something that concerns Burke and he feels players are no longer able to police themselves.

“If a player with the character of Colton Orr can’t contribute in this league, I don’t like where the game is going,” Burke told media.

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

Comments

Chet's avatar

“If a player with the character of Colton Orr can’t contribute in this league, I don’t like where the game is going,” Burke told media.

that’s just it, though. hockey is more a game of skill than character. you need both to win, but you’ll never get the chance without skill.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 01/05/12 at 03:04 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Burke is a deeply caring and passionate man who honestly cares about the state of the game of hockey.  I appreciate that.

With that said, I very heartily disagree with what he’s saying here.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/05/12 at 03:20 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

As several reporters said on Twitter, Burke never mentioned that Orr didn’t have the skills to keep up with his peers or merit a spot on his NHL roster due to anything more than having a solid pair of fists. Instead he deflected blame for his own decision upon the NHL and the “code” not being enforced.

As for Burke’s comments, I said this on Twitter and I still support it: If Burke were to launch into a rant about the suggestion that it’s unfair that Pecorino Romano cheese is treated as inferior to Parmgiano-Reggiano, and would suggest that there’s a caste system among cheeses which wrongly treats the moldy ones as unpalatable, reporters would write thoughtful and lengthy columns discussing the topic as if Burke were all too correct about cheese’s caste system.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/05/12 at 03:20 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“Pecorino Romano”

Nashville’s goalie?

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 01/05/12 at 03:25 PM ET

SYF's avatar

“Pecorino Romano”

Nashville’s goalie?

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from COLUMBIA, TENNESSEE on 01/05/12 at 01:25 PM ET

Heard he was Swiss:  full of holes.

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 01/05/12 at 03:26 PM ET

Avatar

that’s just it, though. hockey is more a game of skill than character. you need both to win, but you’ll never get the chance without skill.

But if your skill is out with a concussion what are you left with? How many concussions did Gretzky have? Yzerman? Why is that? Its because back then if a player made even a questionable hit his punishment wasnt a suspension and a fine it was someone like Orr making you accountable for your action.

Just look at the past. Pre-instigator penalty how many times did you hear the word concussion?

Don’t get me wrong I am not for unnecessary fighting or violence but the league I think needs to do away with the political correctness and allow some(key word) leeway for the players who are ultimately responsible anyways to handle it themselves.

Tim

Posted by Tim on 01/05/12 at 03:44 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Please NHL, please.  Give us all three or four years of watching what a ban on hard elbow & shoulder pads would do to people’s opinion about how much respect players have for one another on the ice.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/05/12 at 03:50 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Orr is one of the “rats” Burke is moaning about.

Burke was one of those “rats” when he played.

Brian Burke has yet to actually prove anything as a GM.  He didn’t build a Cup winner in ANA, he stumbled into one when the NHL decided it would put a cap on the number of penalties they’d call against a team any given game.

He couldn’t build a real winner in VAN, and he still can’t in TOR.

I don’t get why he gets any respect at all, to be honest.  He’s a gasbag.

Posted by Primis on 01/05/12 at 03:58 PM ET

JBytes's avatar

Burke should team up with Bobby Clarke and form their own league where truculence will reign. The whole idea of having these fighters/thugs taking up roster spots for the sole purpose of staged fights is a huge turnoff for me as a hockey fan.

Posted by JBytes on 01/05/12 at 04:10 PM ET

Avatar

As a hockey fan I’m far less worried about ‘rats’ taking over the games than I am stubborn cro-magnon morons taking over the hockey operations of prized franchises.

Score one for they with the prominent foreheads, sadly.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/05/12 at 04:24 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Burke should team up with Bobby Clarke and form their own league where truculence will reign. The whole idea of having these fighters/thugs taking up roster spots for the sole purpose of staged fights is a huge turnoff for me as a hockey fan.

Very true.

Burke’s missing the big picture. The fact is most rats will fight; Cooke, Ott, Avery, Torres, Carcillo..

I’m trying to think of any other rats that constantly danger other players who won’t drop the mitts. Most of them do.

The problem is today’s heavyweight enforcer has two things working against them;
1. They can’t skate or play well enough to get regular ice time so they can avenge on-ice shenanigans.
2. They only fight other heavyweights.

Let’s pretend that Boston had a prime Bobbie Probert or Wendel Clark at the time of the Savard incident. Chances are good one of those guys could have been on the ice at the time of the bad hit. Back in the day, Probie or Wendel wouldn’t have hesitated a second to drop the mitts and wreak havoc on Cooke’s face.

Guys like McSorley, Domi, Tocchet, Neely,... etc could all PLAY the game.
Not today’s goon. So they sit on the bench and wait for a tap and then they fight a heavyweight.
What on earth will a guy like Carcillo or Torres learn if two goons fight for what they caused?
Nothing.
Just like they learn nothing by dropping the mitts with fellow middleweights.
Most guys will take a few licks to earn a hefty NHL paycheck.

The game is different and regardless if the instigator rule is dropped (a rule the NHLPA votes into every CBA), none of the above will change.

That’s why Shanahan has to grow a pair and start tossing the book at the Rats.
7 games for Carcillo? A 5-time repeat offender? Are you kidding me?
Gilbert’s hurt, the hit was nasty and he only gets 7? Meanwhile Brendan Smith, a non-offender, gets 8 games for his hit???
Insanity! Carcillo should have gotten 15+ games. I would have given him 20.
And don’t get me started on Torres and his trifecta of head-hits. Only 2 games?
What these piddly suspensions did was tell other Rats that they can continue endangering other players.

The game needs to be cleaned up and it’s up to the league to do it.
Get rid of the rats - correction - change the game so that rats are no longer seen as valuable to winning games, and everyone will win; fans and players.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/05/12 at 04:36 PM ET

Avatar

Just look at the past. Pre-instigator penalty how many times did you hear the word concussion?

OK, but ask those players, in retrospect, how many concussions they figure they suffered now that we know more about them.

Posted by Garth on 01/05/12 at 04:37 PM ET

Avatar

@ Tim : You didn’t hear about concussions in the “good old days” because it was a dirty little secret.  There is almost no way that Yzerman and Gretzky did not suffer some concussions.

Basically, thanks to the Lucic-Miller decision, you need a big meatbag on your team.  After all we heard about “a new Sheriff”, cleaning up the game, real punishments, about the end of vigilanteism, about not fighting after clean hits…etc., the fact is that the media and the league teamed up to say that the Sabres should have taken care of business, old time hockey style.  Basically the Sabres were SOL because the didn’t have someone who can take on Lucic.  Gaustad had to get his head thumped on to make it right.  The media in Buffalo have themselves to thank for their team’s spiral.  The reason the Sabres didn’t attack Lucic is that they had heard some of this lip service about the new NHL.

“If someone as slow as Orr can’t keep up….” - honestly, if you believe in meatbags, then carry one on your club.  WTF?  It would be real nice if the league could make up its mind….right now half the clubs are buying-in to skill, and facing a competitive disadvantage against teams that still have heavyweights, who like Lucic, effectively make it impossible for teams to “stand up for themselves”.  So we’re back to the 1970’s arms race.

Posted by Guerin's Backcheck on 01/05/12 at 04:45 PM ET

Avatar

OK, but ask those players, in retrospect, how many concussions they figure they suffered now that we know more about them.

For sure there were some. but i’m saying there were way less due to the fact that players knew if they railed someone the bill would come due. you played clean including checking you really had no worries. thump a guy and be ready to defend yourself. Take the Carcillo hit. If he knew that sitting on the bench was as referenced earlier a Probert type player. Or even Orr for that matter would he still have made that hit?

That being said there is no place in the game for a guy whose sole purpose is to sit on the bench and when he gets tagged in go get someone. But there is a need for guys that are a bit more intimidating PLUS having the skill set to actually play in the league being there to keep people honest as opposed to a couple games off and a fine which in most cases is pretty irrelevant considering the dough these guys get.

Posted by Tim on 01/05/12 at 04:58 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Basically, thanks to the Lucic-Miller decision, you need a big meatbag on your team.  After all we heard about “a new Sheriff”, cleaning up the game, real punishments, about the end of vigilanteism, about not fighting after clean hits…etc., the fact is that the media and the league teamed up to say that the Sabres should have taken care of business, old time hockey style. Basically the Sabres were SOL because the didn’t have someone who can take on Lucic.  Gaustad had to get his head thumped on to make it right.  The media in Buffalo have themselves to thank for their team’s spiral.  The reason the Sabres didn’t attack Lucic is that they had heard some of this lip service about the new NHL.

WOW! GREAT, GREAT post!

So true. And you can see it in every decision Shanny has made since the regular season started.
I’m not sure if the GM’s got to him, but his iron hammer turned into plastic after his initial suspension-spree in the preseason.

Don Cherry used to go on and on about how the tough guys were the most honest and they made sure nobody got hurt.
That’s not the case anymore. Look at some of the dirtiest players in the league today;
Carcillo, Ott, Avery, Lucic, Neil.

All of those guys aren’t afraid to drop the mitts and yet all of them have nearly taken a head off or two from dirty hits to the head.

The old days are over. Goons can’t skate on top-lines anymore so Shanny and the NHL have to police this game.
Giving Lucic a pass on every dirty hit, and ONLY 7 games to Carcillo only tells the rest of the league “You’re on your own. Nobody in our offices will protect you”.

I swear, some days the NHL looks like a prison riot on the ice.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/05/12 at 05:01 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Take the Carcillo hit. If he knew that sitting on the bench was as referenced earlier a Probert type player. Or even Orr for that matter would he still have made that hit?

Honestly, I believe he would.
Carcillo has proven he’ll take anyone on.
And most guys will do almost anything to keep an NHL job, including taking a few lumps from a tough guy.

Look at Cooke. He had to fight Shawn Thornton after the Savard hit and he continued to kill guys from dangerous hits afterward.
Only his 17-game suspension cured him of his disease.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/05/12 at 05:03 PM ET

Avatar

@ Tim : You didn’t hear about concussions in the “good old days” because it was a dirty little secret.  There is almost no way that Yzerman and Gretzky did not suffer some concussions.

Basically, thanks to the Lucic-Miller decision, you need a big meatbag on your team.  After all we heard about “a new Sheriff”, cleaning up the game, real punishments, about the end of vigilanteism, about not fighting after clean hits…etc., the fact is that the media and the league teamed up to say that the Sabres should have taken care of business, old time hockey style.  Basically the Sabres were SOL because the didn’t have someone who can take on Lucic.  Gaustad had to get his head thumped on to make it right.  The media in Buffalo have themselves to thank for their team’s spiral.  The reason the Sabres didn’t attack Lucic is that they had heard some of this lip service about the new NHL.

“If someone as slow as Orr can’t keep up….” - honestly, if you believe in meatbags, then carry one on your club.  WTF?  It would be real nice if the league could make up its mind….right now half the clubs are buying-in to skill, and facing a competitive disadvantage against teams that still have heavyweights, who like Lucic, effectively make it impossible for teams to “stand up for themselves”.  So we’re back to the 1970’s arms race.

I agree there were concussions that got hidden no question. But growing up in the Yzerman era and watching his whole career I don’t think he got bounced around as near as much as Crosby has. Yes he took some licks but on average no.

Hockey is a violent and emotional game. unless either the contact or emotion is taken out there will have to be someway for players to relieve some of the stress/pressure/emotion/. If you take fighting out then what will be the release valve? stick swinging? more dirty hitting?

Its a very interesting topic.

Posted by Tim on 01/05/12 at 05:13 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

If you take fighting out then what will be the release valve? stick swinging? more dirty hitting?

To quote the great Ken Dryden, how about the players just learn to be adults and suck it up.
Basketball and football are two very physical sports and yet players usually learn to keep their cool on the field.

The greatest outlet is to score a goal or initiate a big, clean hit.

There are times where a fight seems to be warranted. If someone is taking a lot of illegal abuse via crosschecks or slashes, and the refs don’t get it under control, I can see someone taking it into their own hands.

However, how many times have we seen someone like Jerome Iginla starting fights simply because they’re angry at the outcome of a game?
As a Wings fan, I still clearly remember when he tried to pick a fight with Mattieu Schnieder during an ‘07 playoff game.

Or look at that young player, Jenner from the Canadian Jr. team.
His team was getting walloped and so he speared a Russian player out of frustration.

The players need to be adults. If something dangerous happens and the refs or league are unwilling to protect the players, then I can see fights happening.
But most times, players act like big babies who look to fight when things aren’t going their way. Those kinds of fights don’t need to occur.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/05/12 at 05:22 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

This is insanity.

The idea that having people on the bench whose job it is to hurt people in order to make sure that more people don’t get hurt is ludicrous.

If you’re looking at the past and wondering why there weren’t more cases of thinks like the Carcillo hit, we’re looking at three options.  Let’s bear them out through a player’s thought process.

Option 1: “Oh boy, I had better not plant this guy into the boards because there’s a ruffian on the other side who is sure to give me the old what-for if I were to somehow cross a line of conduct… even though I’m well-known for fighting to defend myself and go out looking to take on other ruffians with some regularity. I hope they someday make a movie where an Italian guy with only half a working face punches communism to death!”

Option 2: “Dearest me! I respect the hell out of this guy who is also chasing the puck at a high rate of speed. If I want to be viewed as a respectful member of society and to someday be invited to a barbecue or luau at his domicile, I would be best served to alter my current course of action so as not to wound my fellow respectable man and my own social standing in the process. Also, WHAT IS THE DEAL with gas prices; am I right or what?”

Option 3: “AAAAAAH HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING SKATING FULL-SPEED TOWARDS THE BOARDS WEARING LITTLE MORE THAN FOLDED-OVER NEWSPAPERS ON MY SHOULDERS.  I AM GOING TO FUCHING DIE IF I HIT THIS GUY. I HAD BETTER SLOW DOWN! ... REAGANOMICS!”

...

If you want to look at a different example (like oh, say the Rene Bourque suspension), I would ask that while you’re looking to the past where men were men and everything was better than it was today, to at least LOOK at all of the cheap and dirty elbows that people threw when there were still goons and instigators on the ice.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/05/12 at 05:29 PM ET

Avatar

The players need to be adults. If something dangerous happens and the refs or league are unwilling to protect the players, then I can see fights happening.

Define protect the players? Sitting the offender out X number of games? that does very little if X is something that doesnt sting both the team and offender.

So then what the next logical step. Guys intentionally putting themselves in position to take a whack to get the other guy out for some games?

Posted by Tim on 01/05/12 at 05:30 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Define protect the players? Sitting the offender out X number of games? that does very little if X is something that doesnt sting both the team and offender.

No argument here.
That’s the crux of the issue. If Shanny actually handed down significant suspensions, then things would be better.
I keep going back to the Cooke case. He didn’t change his ways at all after the Savard incident (where he ‘paid the price’ by fighting Shawn Thornton - nevermind Savard’s career is over while Cooke continues to play).
In fact, he committed two more incredibly dangerous plays afterward.

He was finally given a worthy suspension and now the guy has a mere 14 PIM’s.
That’s what needs to happen more often.

Still, I’m not convinced that goons clean up the sport at all.
It seems teams loaded up on goons in the offseason (Ben Eager was signed before Chris Campoli for crying out loud) and yet the game is still more dangerous than it’s ever been.

And look at episode 3 of 24/7. Jody Shelly threatens Mike Rupp with violence for Rupp going after a 22-year-old player.
Rupp responds saying that he has it coming because ‘he’s acting like an idiot’.
Rupp, fearing a beating from a top goon, doesn’t do anything to the 22-year old.

So in this case, a Rat was left off the hook because his goon protected him and allowed him to continue being an idiot.

I imagine this happens more than we know.
If goons truly were there to keep the game clean, then they should never stand in the way when a teammate is acting dangerously. They should allow them to take their lumps from the other teams enforcer.
But in the above case, we see that having a top HW, allowed for MORE shenanigans, not less.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/05/12 at 05:55 PM ET

Avatar

@ Tim - Costing them paychecks will affect their on-ice behavior.

“If you want to look at a different example (like oh, say the Rene Bourque suspension), I would ask that while you’re looking to the past where men were men and everything was better than it was today, to at least LOOK at all of the cheap and dirty elbows that people threw when there were still goons and instigators on the ice. “

This.  There is way too much pining for the good old days that were mean and ugly.  Was LaFontaine’s problem not having an enforcer?  Those were dirty days and the media just left it alone.  Lindros getting his wrist broken by uncalled slashes.  It sucked.  The result was 2 work stoppages as they tried to find some balance.  We all remember guys like Gilmour as ‘heart and soul’, as we gripe on about Burrows, but Killer Gilmour was a lumberjack out there.  Spearing, which we all call ‘gutless’, was a common part of his game (I love him btw), but we have extremely selective memory nowadays.  This whole discourse on ‘gutlessness’ and ‘character’ may be worthwhile, it should happen, except that it is hypocritical, hysterical, and distorted by these rose-coloured glasses.

Posted by Guerin's Backcheck on 01/05/12 at 06:01 PM ET

Avatar

So then what the next logical step. Guys intentionally putting themselves in position to take a whack to get the other guy out for some games?

That really only applies if the dirty player is also one of the best players on a team.  If Sidney Crosby were out there throwing elbows and knee-on-knee hits then I could see someone intentionally putting himself in the position to take a hit, but when it’s Daniel Carcillo throwing these hits, who wants to put his career on the line so that *gasp* Chicago is going to be without Carcillo’s amazing hockey skills for an extended period of time?

And even still, with the unpredictable nature of head injuries, who is going to want to put his livelihood and potentially his mental health on the line just to make sure that Aaron Rome is out of Vancouver’s lineup?

Posted by Garth on 01/05/12 at 06:45 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com