Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Burke ready to unleash a new breed of Duck

“We charge in the neighbourhood of $100 for a ticket, folks. We have to justify that investment by our fans... And that’s my mission. I think you can play exciting hockey.”

— New GM Brian Burke vows the Ducks will provide an entertaining brand of hockey (The Globe and Mail).

I had been holding off commenting on the Brian Burke to the Anaheim Ducks reports until there was sufficient time to say all I have to say (which, as you will see, is a considerable amount). As the Ducks made the move official yesterday, now seems the appropriate time.

Yesterday, a chum of mine from the Toronto Sun emailed me for my thoughts on Burke heading to Anaheim. Knowing how closely I had followed the Canucks the past decade, he was curious to learn what I thought of his migration south (you’ll have to pardon the bird puns). What follows is an approximation of my reply to him:

Well, in my opinion, Burke is one of the top handful of GMs in the NHL, so this is going to mean nothing but great things for the Ducks. With Burke at the helm, I have no doubt Anaheim will be a playoff team next season and will win their division in the next three to four years.

He’s one of the smartest men in hockey, and, as I said at the time, the Canucks were absolutely out of their minds to get rid of him.

Reading Grant Kerr’s story in today’s Globe and Mail, there are a handful of wonderful Burke quotes from the press conference introducing him as GM. It’s that quotable quality he had during his Vancouver tenure that really endeared the “sometimes bombastic” Harvard-educated lawyer to the hockey masses out west. Of course, his penchant for success had something to do with that as well.

Even once Canuck management turfed him, I think myself and a lot of Vancouver fans had hoped to see a change in ownership — after all, there has long been talk of John McCaw selling the team — and Burke being brought back into the fold.

As it stands now, with the Ducks under new non-Disney ownership, I may have to start cheering for Burke’s plucky charges. Provided, of course, the Samueli family follows through with their plans to rename the team.

The family has owned the team very briefly at this point, but I sure can't argue with their reasoning on their first big move with the club:

"We wanted someone who was intelligent, self-confident, a creative thinker and someone with a dynamic personality and a passion for winning," Samueli said.

"After looking through all the candidates, we unanimously came up with our first choice and were successful in bringing in our first choice for that position as general manager, and that is Brian Burke."

It's interesting that the announcement comes on the same day the Chicago Blackhawks name their new GM, ex-Canuck Dale Tallon, and usher in what I presume will be another era of mediocrity. Expect the fate of Anaheim and Chicago to progress in opposite directions from this day forward.

I foresee big things for Burke in the NHL. The unfortunate thing is, barring some minor miracle, they won’t come with Vancouver.

On a related note, those in B.C. can read a piece on Canucks' GM Dave Nonis in tomorrow's Globe. "... Dave Nonis has waited more than 13 months to complete a significant initiative as resident general manager of the Vancouver Canucks ..."


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