First, it was Ron Hextall, who became the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager. Second, it was Brian Burke, who became the Penguins’ director of hockey operations. The Penguins lured both those longtime hockey men to run the Penguins’ show.
Was Burke “Invited” By Mario?
To get Burke to come to the Penguins, he had to leave what was probably an easy and fun job as an NHL TV analyst. However, there’s been a suggestion that the process was spurred along by a little tap on the shoulder from the great Mario Lemieux. If that actually did happen, it no doubt provided a bit of extra incentive for Burke to leave working in Toronto to join the Penguins.
The real story might also be that Burke had interviewed for the general manager’s position that former Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie Hextall eventually was offered. And, then Burke was offered this secondary job. If that’s the case, this job probably suits him better anyway.
Burke’s Life Was Good, But He Saw It Might Be Better
As the 65-year-old Burke noted, “Like I was happy with my life. I liked living in Toronto … [but] this is Cadillac class here. It’s not a run of the mill team, it’s not run of the mill ownership.”
Brian Burke Comes with Some Colorful Baggage
In short, Burke’s a character, which is why he probably made a really strong hockey analyst. He told stories of his experiences in NHL leadership.
Just after his hiring by the Penguins, Christine Simpson interviewed Burke and invited him to watch and comment on some of his most notable and famous rants that came from press conferences where he had been asked questions from the media.
Two Crazy Rants by Brian Burke
In the video below, you can watch Burke react and tell the background of some of his most famous, colourful “rants.”
Two Stories Stand Out
During the video, two stories stood out for me. First, was what Burke ironically called the “Pittsburgh Plan” when he was with the Anaheim Ducks. Second, you can see him go off about the treatment of his players when he was general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.
Story One: The Pittsburgh Plan
In Burke’s words, the “Pittsburgh Plan” involved getting lucky enough to win the lottery so the best player in hockey – Sidney Crosby – could be drafted first. Not much of a plan, Burke hints – just dumb luck.
Story Two: Leave My Canucks’ Players Alone
During his second rant, Burke makes three points.
First, Todd Bertuzzi doesn’t really play for the Detroit Red Wings; but, it looks like that because the Red Wings were covering him so closely that he was literally carrying or “wearing two or three red sweaters all the time.” Burke didn’t know the “tackling was unacceptable tactics” for covering Bertuzzi.
Second, Burke postulated that the word “Sedin” was not English for “punch me or have locked me in a scrum.” Obviously, he was tired of the physical play leveled against the Sedin twins Henrik and Daniel.
Third, Burke noted that “our (the Canucks) goaltender can be identified by the large pads he wears.” Burke also noted that the Canucks’ goalie was the one who “does not die when he gets brushed.”
As Burke explained, “I’m watching the twins get mugged every night and watching Todd Bertuzzi get gang tackled; so, I finally called a press conference and did that little rant.”
He was fined $30,000 by the NHL. Good luck to Burke in his new job. May he continue to entertain us all with his rants.
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