Brian Burke was outspoken about the Toronto media during his tenure with the Maple Leafs, and nothing has changed on that front even though he’s now with the Calgary Flames.
Although Burke said he has no regrets about taking the job with the Leafs, he doesn’t miss the media scrutiny he underwent during his five-plus years with the team.
“It is a death of a thousand cuts,” the former Maple Leafs GM told the Toronto Sun during a roundtable at a charity event in Toronto this week. “And I loved working here. I thought I had the best job in hockey when I worked here. In Calgary, it’s not a whole lot better in terms of the media coverage. But you have 80 percent of the media that are ethical people that give a [expletive], want to get it right. The other 20 per cent ruin it for everybody.”
The Leafs did not make the playoffs with Burke at the helm; he was fired by in January 2013 and replaced by Dave Nonis.
Burke was often criticized for the off-ice moves he made and for many he didn’t make. The 58-year-old did admit not all of the censure that was thrust in his direction was unjust.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what they write. But I do think, to be fair, I don’t feel like I got abused here by the media. I feel the treatment was largely fair,” Burke explained. “Do I feel that some stuff was handled in a horse[expletive] way? Yep. But you’re in Canada, people care about hockey here. The price you pay for working in Canada is you’re going to get some horse[expletive] stuff. The beauty is, people love this game and care about this game. It’s not the same anywhere else. That’s why I’ve worked in Canada all my adult life when I can.”
Nonis and Leafs captain Dion Phanuef were also on hand at the event and chimed in.
“It is a very tough market to play in,” Phaneuf said. “As a player, it’s an unbelievable market. We’ve got great fans. But on the media side of it, there is a lot of scrutiny.”
Nonis added: “I don’t pay attention to it. I don’t listen to the radio. I learned this in Vancouver a long time ago… If you’re reading people that may or may not know what they’re talking about, or pay attention or come to practice — people that don’t come to practice but will write about players and their practice habits — if you’re listening to that and you’re making decisions based upon that, you have no chance of success in the Canadian market. Zero.”
Burke was hired as president of hockey operations by the Flames last September and has started making some key organizational changes. After firing GM Jay Feaster in December, Burke hired the highly respected Brad Treliving in April. The Flames currently hold the fourth-overall pick at next Friday’s NHL Draft.