Brian Burke Q&A: On his new guide and his time as Canucks normal supervisor | Hockey | Sports activities
Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke has long been known for his resilience. And if they don’t like what you’re saying, they’ll let you know.
This practice has been confirmed since he began working in all media. Hockey fans welcome his ideas on the game with the NHL at Hockey Night in Canada, and can now discover more about his beautiful work through his new memory, Burke’s Law: A Life in Hockey, written by Stephen Brunt.
Postmedia News spoke to Burke this week from his home in Toronto:
Q: How did you become aware of the issues to include?
The included articles were designed to reflect a management problem or that of a player, sponsor or owner, or another GM. And it should be what is known by the team or the steering group. In other words, I have never told a story about a player in a one-on-one meeting where embarrassing things happened. That was his test. It had to be true, it had to be proven, and it had to be known to our team.
Q: Is there anything in the book that you think might reveal something about you that might surprise readers?
I think people would be surprised to know how close I am to my players.
As a GM promoter, you connect closely with your players, helping them get involved. By sharing food expenses, you have saved for boys’ trips. You deal with players and their wives every day.
Like GM, unless you force it to happen, it doesn’t happen. It was an important part of what I thought we needed in Vancouver. And so I just kept doing it.
Q: It seems how important Pat Quinn was in your work. Is that what you also understand from Pat?
He was always focused on what his players needed, what his players were feeling, what his players were dealing with. Yes, I had a great teacher that way, but that was my opinion. When I played – I did not play very long and I did not play well – but there was not much contact. Bob McCammon was my teacher and at the time there was no great connection. That’s why I think, if I can get a chance to do this, I want to do better.
Q: In this book, you write about how much you moved to the US because of your father’s work. Is this genetically motivated by something you think comes from your childhood, that you often have to get used to new situations and get used to new people and try new things?
Yes, I would say, No. 1 thing that happened to me too, I was a shy kid. Walking around you should have more social skills than I did.
Yes, but I would say that it was one thing.
Q: Why did you choose to work with Stephen Brunt?
I think he writes the best books to play and that’s why I asked him to do it. I admire some of the books he wrote, which I read. Well polished. He was the only person I talked to. I also spoke with Scotty Morrison. Stephen, he was the right man. I strongly believe that.
Q: I think everyone in Vancouver is well aware of your media experience. Is it weird that I totally want to hang out with this guy?
Well, I approach it the same way. I want to say what I think. If people like it, well, if they don’t, I’m a fan of it.
People forget, I agree with many famous journalists. I was popular, I gave them time. I tried to give them a good word. I tried to be approachable. And so I have a good relationship with the media, except for a few guys.
Q: You are well aware of the ones you did not like in your book (Larry Brooks of The New York Post, Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun, Tony Gallagher of The Province, Al Strachan of The Toronto Sun, and The Globe and Email are coming to criticize). Why was it something you wanted to catch?
I did not touch on this, but in my opinion, it was worth discussing because I think there is a perception that I do not agree with the media and it cannot be far from the truth. But the truth is that I was harassed in several markets by people who did not do well. And I was determined to call them.
I don’t like books that pay a lot of attention. Like, if you look at how I do get fired by these different groups, I didn’t take the opportunity to find anyone, and part of the job.
But these few journalists continue to do poorly and bully each other. And I’ve had enough.
Q: When your contract was about to expire in 2004, owner John McCaw wanted to sell the team. And the closing was near. Do you think if some of these things didn’t happen then you would be a GM in Vancouver?
I think back to the fall (of 2003), the difficulties we encountered in building the alliance of (Todd) Bertuzzi. I think it stops right there.
He did not make me a contract after November. So no, I don’t think the team was sold out, if John McCaw was still the owner, I think he would still have changed, even though we were a 100-point team.
Q: Maybe it’s just Vancouver’s thing, but fans still seem to be using GMs, or ignoring them, in a more popular way than they do with coaches. Why is that?
They strongly pat Pat. Everyone loved Pat Quinn. Yes. And I think the idea of my shooting was, how would you burn a guy who just won the division with two or three 100 seasons? It seems to be going well. How can you get rid of him?
That’s why people look back at my shot and say, “The guy is upset.” Then the twins became very special players.
And some of the guys I wrote with turned out to be real giants on the band like (Kevin) Bieksa and (Ryan) Kesler. And that’s why I think people look back and say, “This guy did a great job and didn’t get a chance to eat and eat.”
Q: So who gets the most respect for the 2011 team, in building, putting it together? Was it you, it was Dave Nonis, it was Mike Gillis?
Well, that’s all three.
I think if you go back and look, I think that in the 15th group of players was where Dave Nonis was. (Eleven players in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoff series were a purchase for Burke / Nonis: On top of Kesler and Bieksa, Sedins, Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider, Mason Raymond, Alex Edler, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Sami Salo.) ( Dan) Hamhuis came in, he was new, I don’t know who else. (Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Mikael Samuelsson, Christian Ehrhoff, Chris Higgins, Max Lapierre, Jeff Tambellini, Tanner Glass, Andrew Alberts, Aaron Rome, Chris Tanev, Keith Ballard and Cody Hodgson were all Gillis’ additions.)
He was mainly a David Nonis team. And, obviously, the best piece of it was mine. Next, I think Mike Gillis added some nice pieces. So I think we are all three.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about your time in Vancouver? Whether it works under Pat (Quinn) or become GM in the second stint? And what do you think you are most sorry for?
Oh, that affects so many places. First of all, my first working trip where I work for Pat, was really magical. We had a good year. Everyone loved Pat. We brought Trevor Linden. T
the first trip to work and work in the Griffithses was a chance.
And that led to my first GM job.
The second time was magical because the team started to get better and better. We had West Coast Express. We were brought in twins and we added strength and it was fun. The group just keeps going.
But I had no relationship with John McCaw at all. After the first year, he stopped coming to the game. The first year he was very round. But not so much. He got married and never lived near me and I never got along with him. It was all through Stan McCammon. And it wasn’t fun.
I was happy with that team. And I love living in Vancouver and I love being well. But it didn’t make sense if I stayed there forever because they didn’t pay for it. He didn’t worry about me. They did not feel the same way, even though the city was large.
Q: You’ve been here a long time, you’ve probably won the Cup at Anaheim and you’ve also played for teams in Toronto, Calgary and Hartford. Which team do you like best?
Cup team. It will be obvious. I climbed Mount Everest, and
That’s what we, all of us, crave or care about professionals. So that will be my inheritance.
I loved every place I worked.
I really like Calgary, because it is so clean and the people are so nice. And she is so beautiful. And I love Vancouver. I mean, I did two working trips there. I loved both of them.
Q: You talk a lot about family in your book. This is your second time as a parent. Is it easy?
It’s great to have the opportunity to do it again. And I hope you are well. I am more patient with my daughters than I used to be.
But all six children were magical. I’m lucky.
I work hard on the family planning side of things. It’s a joy. They are just a joy. Children are a miracle.
Q: The legacy of Brendan (his son who died in a car accident in 2010 and who was gay), and Project You Can Play Project, how did he promote hockey?
I was convinced that Brendan would die if we did not allow that to happen to him. And I think you can play it has made a huge difference in the lives of so many LGBTQ young people. And I will continue to do so. And that is our goal.
The day after the funeral, I told the children that we could either sit on the side of the road with our heads down or we could continue walking and I would march and you too. And we will make sure that Brendan never forgot.
I think we have kept our promise in this regard. I think Brendan continues to change lives.
This was strange to me before my baby came out.
That was the hardest part of the book, obviously. But I think we are convinced that there must be a Brendan legacy and it has existed and exists and I am proud of it. Very, very, very proud.
Q: We’ve seen three Cups run in the town and each time it looked like it was getting a little too close but there was some pain at the end of all three.
Is Vancouver hockey cursed?
I am not a believer in magic. So for me. Of course not!
You know, we didn’t fix the problem.
Dan Cloutier, was the perfect goal scorer, but he hurts himself every year in February or March. And he brought Luongo and now he is solving the goalie problem.
But he had to move Bertuzzi to get the viewer. So they got so close. He had to win Game 7 and could not. Approaching right now, this group is marching north rapidly.
No, it is not a curse at all. They will have their Cup there and I will come to this area.
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