I might not always see eye-to-eye with Brian Burke when it comes to team-building, but it’s clear that he’s a man of principles. He made a promise to his son Brendan that he’d march in the Toronto Pride Parade this year, although Burke assumed that his son would still be alive to join him. Unfortunately, Brendan died in a car crash on February, but that didn’t keep his father from attending the parade.
On Sunday Brian Burke and his second wife Jennifer and his sister Meghan and her husband Phil, along with some friends, all marched with PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, an organization that provides support for parents and their gay children. Burke wore a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey with ‘Brendan’ written on the back and the number 88, the year Brendan was born. He will do it again next year, too.
As the parade rolls down the street there is always cheering, but it’s often hooting and hollering, a party vibe. When PFLAG comes into view, though, the vibe changes. The PFLAG marchers holds signs that say things like, “Beyond tolerance – we celebrate our children,” and “Our children are a part of our families and always will be.”
And the crowd always reacts the same way. There is still hollering, but it’s mixed with a rich applause, with the sound of appreciation.
When asked about that reaction, Burke says, “Probably because it’s a support group. There are people who have embraced their children. I don’t think there’s anything heroic about it, but I think people appreciate that not every parent reacts positively when their child tells them that they’re gay. I think that’s probably why.”
It might sound a little trite, but stories like these do put tense contract negotiations and salary cap analysis into perspective. Best wishes to the Burke family as they try to move on from that February accident.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.