Brian Burke: Hit on Penguins’ Crosby was ‘hockey play’

Brian Burke joined Prime Time Sports in studio, and when asked what he thought of the hit from Matt Niskanen on Sidney Crosby and said that despite it being unfortunate, it was a “hockey play.”

The situation in Pittsburgh regarding what happened to Sidney Crosby on Monday night is quickly turning into a divisive debate and Brian Burke knows which side of the ledger he stands on.

“I love Sid, so it’s unfortunate, but my first reaction was that was a hockey play,” said Burke, who joined Prime Time Sports as an in-studio guest on Tuesday afternoon.

The Calgary Flames president of hockey operations said he’s seen many replays of Washington Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen cross-checking the Pittsburgh Penguins captain in the head during Game 3 of the second-round Stanley Cup Playoff series. Niskanen received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit and it was announced on Tuesday that he would not receive further discipline.

Crosby, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with a concussion and won’t play in Game 4, the Penguins announced.

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has received criticism as well because his high-stick on Crosby knocked the Penguins forward off balance just before he was hit by Niskanen. But Burke doesn’t think Ovechkin is at fault.

“I think it was a hockey hit. I don’t know if [Crosby] was dazed when Ovechkin’s stick got him, but even then, I don’t think Ovie was going for his head either,” he said. “This is what happens in our game and I hope he’s not hurt seriously.”

Former NHL defenceman Paul Coffey was vocal about Ovechkin’s hit, while Capitals head coach Barry Trotz defended it as a hockey play. In addition, numerous columnists have chastised the play and the fact that Niskanen was not suspended.

Staying put

Burke also touched on his team’s signing of general manager Brad Treliving to a multi-year contract extension — “He deserves this. This is something that he earned” — and spoke of his own affinity for the city of Calgary.

“I love Calgary. The silver lining of getting fired [by the Toronto Maple Leafs] was that I got to work in Calgary,” Burke said. “I like my boss, I like our setup and I like the way our team’s going. So I’m staying put.”