As if you needed another piece of drama from the Ilya Kovalchuk contract grievance, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun drops a little nugget of information that will tweak out just about anyone involved.
Little known fact: Among those who took the witness stand to support the NHL’s case against invalidating the Ilya Kovalchuk contract was Brian Burke
Before you go flipping out and Devils fans start sending hate mail to Toronto, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind here. First up, Simmons just drops this line in with no other elaboration (not that it’s needed) into his Sunday column of rambling thoughts. While the information seems shocking and generates a reaction from fans and gets schmoes like me to write about it, that’s what it was supposed to do. You win this round, Simmons.
Secondly, Brian Burke is a company guy. After all, he used to be the NHL’s Vice President and Director of Hockey Operation from 1993-1998. If you thought that a current general manager who has been very outspoken about long, cap-challenging contracts wasn’t going to speak up on the league’s behalf, you’re crazy.
Burke is a lightning rod for attention and that’s because he’s one of the NHL’s most opinionated and most outspoken executives. One thing he’s always been, however, is loyal to what the league’s demands are. When you’re one of the guys that once was an architect on such matters, that will happen.
Before Devils fans start calling Burke a thousand different names (like you weren’t doing that already), know your NHL executive history and know that Burke is and has almost always been in the corner of Gary Bettman and the NHL.