Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke took issue with NewsTalk 1010’s John Moore during a radio interview Tuesday morning.
When Moore asked the GM, who fired head coach Ron Wilson on Friday, if Burke himself was close to be fired, considering his team’s 12th-place standing in the conference, Burke told the host that such a question was a “cheap shot.”
“I think it’s an ignorant question and a gutless one too,” Burke said on air before hanging up on Moore.
Prior to that he said: “That’s up to ownership when the GM gets changed, but I wish you’d tell me that off the air before you were gonna take a little swing on the way out, but I guess that’s what people in your line of work do.”
“I don’t vet my questions ahead of time with anybody,” Moore defended after Burke left the conversation.
Earlier in the short radio appearance, Burke discussed the important work of fighting for the rights of gay athletes, the challenge of letting Wilson go, the team’s chances of making the playoffs, and Don Cherry’s rant on Saturday’s edition of Coach’s Corner.
“It was very difficult to fire Ron Wilson,” Burke explained. “It’s been incorrectly reported repeatedly that we were roommates in college; we were not. It’s been reported repeatedly incorrectly that I hired Ron; I did not. But we’ve been friends for… it’ll be 39 years this fall, and we played four years together.”
Burke said he believed, however, that replacing Wilson with Randy Carlyle was the right thing to do even though reaching the playoffs this season is now “a steep hill.”
When Moore played a clip of Cherry’s rant on the lack of Ontario players on the Leafs’ roster, Burke said that he was aware of the Hockey Night in Canada icon’s comments but had not yet listened to the rant.
“I don’t listen to Coach’s Corner,” Burke said. “I have no interest in escalating an argument with Don Cherry. I don’t know what set him off on that rant because we’ve actually had a good relationship historically.”
Burke then explained that in the three drafts he has run with the Leafs, Toronto leads the NHL with eight Ontario-born players drafted.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve drafted more Ontario-born players than anybody else. We’ve selected 10 players during that time from the Ontario Hockey League,” he said. “That, again, is the most by any team; the next (most) is eight. So the notion that we don’t like Ontario kids, that’s garbage. Why would the CBC let facts get in the way of an interesting rant?”
Burke said he would talk to Cherry about the rant at some point.
Burke’s Leafs, currently five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, host the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.