Maple Leafs general manager isn’t exactly a guy that pulls his punches when discussing a topic. He’ll shoot you a glare, give you his opinion and if he doesn’t like your question he’ll let you know it too. When it comes down to business he’s deadly serious, so when Michael Traikos of Canada’s National Post asked Burke about his thoughts on Ilya Kovalchuk’s debated contract with the Devils, you better believe he’s got a few things to say about that.
“No one is going to be able to prove circumvention until one of these guys retires,” the Leafs GM said. “And by then we’ll be in a new CBA. But I’m comfortable that a number of these players are, in fact, going to walk.
“I don’t believe these players are going to play in their mid-40s. And I don’t believe they’re going to play for what they’re making in those final years. So it defies logic. It may not defy the CBA. But it defies logic to think that players are going to serve the term of all these contract s . So that’s why we don’t do them. And a number of teams don’t do them. If the league thinks that this is one that they need to look into, then we support that.”
I’m sure that Burke’s comments will invite questions from peanut galleries across the NHL world saying, “Well no wonder the Leafs don’t win anything,” but I suppose we’ll have to wait a few years to find out if he is right about players not playing out their contracts into their 40s. As for the tactic of doing these deals themselves, let’s just say that Brian Burke might not be getting a Christmas card from Lou Lamoriello, Dale Tallon, Paul Holmgren or Ken Holland any time soon.
“Do you admire a criminal lawyer who gets a murderer off on a technicality?” Burke asked yesterday. “So why would there be admiration or appreciation for finding a loophole that somehow defeats the purpose of a collective bargaining agreement that’s designed to put teams on the same footing?”
To put things in perspective here, since this metaphor provided by Burke is really out of left field, I’m assuming this makes the players the murderers and the GMs the Johnnie Cochran’s of the collective bargaining agreement. Got it.
That said, playing by the honor system when there’s nothing technically illegal about molding the rules to work for you sounds like a recipe to get screwed. Money isn’t an object for the Maple Leafs as they’re swimming in cash, so why not make that money work for you instead of against you? It seems a bit baffling.
Burke is to be admired for having his business principles and sticking to them and trying to build a winning team the “right” way is commendable, but in this brand of the NHL it’s like what noted philosopher and former wrestling superstar governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura said, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.” Like it or not, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.