Quick, where’s the closest barn to the Air Canada Centre? Brian Burke might want to rent it after reading the latest column by the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons.
On the heels of the latest dust-up between the Leafs and the local media – this one featured coach Ron Wilson telling reporters Jonas Gustavsson would start Saturday, then starting James Reimer instead, after which Burke leapt to the defense of Wilson, ripping the media in the process – Simmons pulled no punches in his assessment of Burke’s relationship with Toronto’s sports journalists.
The atmosphere in Leaf land between Burke, Wilson to a degree, and the rather enormous press corps which covers the team, has grown more and more poisonous over time. And this is nothing new to Burke, although it’s taken more than three years for this to build to crescendo level here. In Vancouver, when he operated the Canucks he had serious run-ins with well-known columnists and radio talk show hosts, and those relationships, frankly, grew toxic over time.
Already this year, Burke has tangled with many voices of consequence in this market, feuding or cutting off columnists from the local papers for disagreeing with opinions, calling editors to complain about specific writers, questioning their methods of reporting or viewpoints he did not share. Burke is a great believer in freedom of speech — so long as he is doing the speaking.
But this role of president, general manager, sports editor, journalism school professor, bully, and social media activist, has gotten tiresome.
They say you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, but Burke seems to enjoy these little feuds.
PHT definitely enjoys them, so keep it up, everyone. Fight! Fight! Fight!