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CA • United States • 2009 Years Old • Male

Just stop, Brian

Posted 9:09 PM ET | Comments 2
"Just stop enough of the limitless critical comments on my life, just drop the judgement and all the pseudo-involvement in my life." -- Disturbed, "Just Stop."

It is unlikely the band knew Brian Burke when they wrote the song, which is ironically played at most Anaheim Ducks home games, but it could not be any more appropriate.

Just ask Kevin Lowe.

Or, for that matter, anyone else who is tired of the gong show in Anaheim.

At one point, the bombastic general manager of the Anaheim Ducks was entertaining. He seemed to be a breath of fresh air, a bit of honesty, a front office man with an entertainment factor.

That seems like such a long time ago.

Yes, Burke presided over last year's Stanley Cup championship squad, so it seems a bit odd to criticize him at this point. However, at a certain point, it is hard to take anymore.

Like most people who grew up in Canada or the United States' hockey belt, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for the people in the game, so writing a column criticizing anyone who has reached this level is not something I aim to do.

Having said that -- Burke, please quit talking.

And while you are at it, please show some of that aforementioned respect to your colleagues.

At some point, it goes from entertaining and honest to self-centered and bombastic. That line seemed to be crossed months ago, but if there was any question, just look at his recent interview on TSN.

"If I had run my team into the sewer like that I wouldn't throw a grenade at the other 29 teams and my own indirectly," Burke told TSN's James Duthie. "So I have no intention of speaking to him anytime soon."

Burke went on to say would not even talk to Lowe if he wanted to talk trade with the Oilers later in the season, saying assistant GM Bob Murray would contact the Oilers.

Don't bother. There's no reason for Lowe to listen to anything coming from Anaheim at this point.

The comment that Lowe has run the team into the sewer is absurd. For years, Lowe found a way to get the low-budget Oilers into the playoffs, even at a time when the loonie dipped as low as 61 cents U.S.

In the 2005-06 season, Lowe's Oilers came one game away from winning the Stanley Cup. The next year, they found themselves a few points out of the playoff picture at the trade deadline, and at that point, the wheels indeed came off.

Without their top two goal scorers from last season, as well as Scott Niedermayer, there is no guarantee the same thing will not happen to Anaheim this year, which makes Burke’s comments even more odd. Still, the Oilers could easily be playoff-bound once again this year, thanks to rookies like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, as well as free-agent additions such as Sheldon Souray, Joni Pitkanen, and.... Dustin Penner.

Of course, the latter is the cause for Burke's comments. Burke flew off the handle when Lowe offered Penner -- a restricted free agent -- a five-year offer sheet worth $4.3 million per year.

In rejecting the chance to match the offer sheet, Burke said he would be as stupid as the guy who made the offer if he matched the offer.

Keep in mind Penner had 29 goals last season. Burke gave $4 million per year to Todd Bertuzzi, a similar player to Penner, except he had just 3 goals last season and is battling chronic back injuries.

It is very hard to understand why Burke thinks Lowe's offer was stupid, given his signing of Bertuzzi at that amount. Yet somehow, this is not surprising.

Burke has made some off the wall comments in the past, such as defending Donald Brashear's taunting of the opposition bench after scoring a goal. Burke said after the incident Brashear had done nothing wrong and if people did not like that, to pass a rule against excessive celebration.

As is so often the case, he missed the point. Celebrating goals is part of hockey -- thankfully, this is not the No Fun League (NFL). Taunting is not. But Burke failed to grasp the lack of class in Brashear's actions.

Ironically, Brashear's taunting of the Boston bench a few months later helped lead to the infamous incident involving him and Marty McSorley.

On an interview with Home Ice XM 204 last season, Burke defended his decision to vote against meaningful change to the NHL schedule. He said the team polled season ticket holders, and there was "only" 16 percentage point difference between those who wanted change and those who did not.

Last time I looked, 16 percentage points was pretty overwhelming.

At the same time, Burke went on TSN and said he strongly opposed every team going to every arena every year -- the only solution that pleases most fans. The next night, he went on the Ducks' pre-game show on FSN Prime Ticket and said the fans wanted change and he definitely wanted some kind of change.

Which is it, Brian? You keep opposing every team in every arena, saying the most you will go to is seeing teams from the opposite conference every other year in each arena. Yet you seem to indicate to the home fans you favor meaningful change.

Perhaps something is being lost in the translation. Half the Eastern teams in the West every year is not meaningful change -- it is only two or three more games against the other conference. And that is not meaningful by any standards.

In the current situation with Lowe, Burke simply does not make sense. Yes, Burke won the Stanley Cup last year, and he seems rightfully aware. But it was far from all Burke -- a lot of the credit goes to former GM Bryan Murray.

Burke inherited an organization with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Andy McDonald, Chris Kunitz (who actually left through waivers and was claimed back under Burke), and perhaps most importantly, Rob Niedermayer.

Scott Niedermayer signed with the Ducks largely because of his brother's presence. The brothers are very close, and Rob was the one without a Stanley Cup. Winning a Stanley Cup with his brother completed the elder Niedermayer's career, and many feel he would have signed anywhere his brother was playing.

Burke did a good job in dumping salaries such as Sergei Fedorov, Petr Sykora, and Sandis Ozolinsh, and the Chris Pronger trade worked out well. Yet once again, Anaheim would not likely have been on Pronger's list of potential teams had it not been for the ground work done prior to Burke's arrival.

Unfortunately, too much of the time, it all seems to be about Burke. What other organization can say their highest profile person is not a player or a coach, but rather, a general manager?

It should not have to be that way.
Filed Under:   NHL   Burke   Lowe   Penner   Oilers   Ducks  
October 5, 2007 12:48 AM ET | Delete
Sour grapes
October 5, 2007 1:44 AM ET | Delete
As an Oiler fan, I found his first comments amusing. And truthfully, Lowe did take a huge risk. But if he didn't pay and aging power forward (Bertuzzi), $4M a season, he would have lots of cap space to pay for Penner. Or maybe if he wasn't playing games with Scott Niedermayer's retirement or sabatical or whatever you call it, he could have matched the offer.Yes, Burkie, we know you are p*ssed off and upset. Can we all move on and focus on the games and the hockey. This is a done deal already.
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