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The never-ending Burke hubris: does anybody care?

When Brian Burke conducted his annual state-of-the-union (end-of-season) media presser last week, it was the same act we always see with Burke.  He is responsive to a point, always quotable and engaging, for sure, but he inevitably reiterates his often-stated claim that he “doesn’t care” what fans or media think.

Now, to be clear, I’m not claiming Burke doesn’t care about the fans, or that he said he doesn’t care about the fans.  He is saying that he doesn’t care about the opinions expressed by media or fans when it comes to the decisions he makes with the hockey club.

But he, at least publicly, seems to feel it necessary to constantly remind us that it doesn’t matter what reporters or fans think about Ron Wilson, for example. (Fair enough.)  It’s what he thinks that matters, and of course that’s true.

Who believes that some guy from the Toronto Star newspaper should have input about Wilson’s future?  Or “Mike from Mississauga”.

Of course not.

Burke is awfully well compensated to lead the Maple Leaf hockey Club, and we are all confident he is quite capable and qualified to do the job.  Personally, I think he has done some outstanding things in his now almost three years as GM of the club.  He has a lot of long-time Maple Leaf GM and coach Punch Imlach in him (click to read my post on Burke and Punch).  He's willing to make big deals, take risks, and he knows a hockey player when he sees one.

But what I’m talking about is not the job he is doing in terms of player signings and trades.  My reference point is the attitude he projects when he is interacting with the media.

We know Burke likes to talk.  He is not shy.  He speaks his mind and in fact, like Don Cherry, has kind of made a career out of his “persona” as much as his performance.

My question is:  do people tire sometimes of his seemingly constant edginess when asked certain things?  And does it bother you that it’s always “on my teams, we always do this…”  and “I always tell my players…”? (Click here to read my earlier post on “Brian Burke and the I in team”.)

Again, I’m not commenting on Burke’s skills as a manager.  That’s a post for the next few days. I realize that I may be absolutely alone in feeling that sometimes, Burke could simply be less arrogant in his media interactions. (Between he and Wilson, the edginess just seems so unneccesary.)  The media, as annoying as 'they' can be, do in part ask the questions that fans can’t always ask.  And I have a sense that a lot of Leaf fans think they know a little something about hockey.  And they’ve been in this market longer than Burke or Wilson.  (That’s not to suggest fans know the intricacies of running a hockey operation like experienced professionals, simply that some fans might know what they’re talking about…)

I just wonder if people don’t really care, or actually like his "act” -or if it is already growing tiresome for you.



  1. It's one of my very favorite things about him. So long as he's moving the team ahead, and I'm very comfortable overall with the fact that he is, the rest is just entertainment. I absolutely love seeing idiots like Simmons and Berger get smacked around for a change- much more preferable than deference to the same stupid questions from the same ridiculous mindset day after day.

  2. Burke strikes me as a very thoughtful and complicated guy, without a lot of time for fools. To him, I suspect that the media is 90% fools ("so like, would you do the Kessel trade if you had a do-over?"), and 10% tools, for when he wants to create a market for a player, etc.

    I always marvel at the incredible - and deluded, and distasteful - sense of entitlement required for a sports writer to write about how 'tired' they are of Burke's or Wilson's attitude.

    Considering how passionately the journalists he interacts with would write up Burke's dismissal; Considering how these 'tired' journalists dig up, and rehash every last one of his mistakes - like fond inside jokes - as context for whatever shallow and lazy article they happen to need to finish before deadline; considering how after using his every word and move to skewer him on one day, they then expect him to smile and banter the following day, with indepth and thoughtful content for their super important sports article; considering how mercilessly they'll treat him if/when he is fired... I suppose considering all of that, this question is beneath answering, OR, I just don't understand other people.

  3. BTW, love your site, been lurking for a good while.

  4. VM, thanks for your comments on the article, and the site.

    I tend to agree that Burke is very good at "utilizing" the local media in whatever market he is in to get his messages out, particularly when he is trying to create interest in a player.

    And I agree with KidKawartha that he is, for sure, entertaining. He knows exactly what he is doing.

    For me, I would be OK with a bit less of the batting-the-media-about, though I can appreciate how annoying it must be to have to interact with the local press day in and day out.

    But they do have a job to do, and for many fans, they are a conduit of sorts.

    People seem fine with Burke's approach and probably as long as he delivers, fans won't much care about how he comes across at times.