November 16, 2007

My Favourite General Manager

I love Brian Burke. In a perfect world he would be the general manager of the pathetic Toronto Maple Leafs. He makes shrewd business decisions, and doesn't care who he upsets in the process. He's a winner but most importantly, he's loyal to his players.

There ain't a lot of loyalty left in pro sports, but you can find some in the Orange County office of my man Brian Burke. He is, in my mind, without question the best general manager in all of hockey, and the Anaheim Ducks are lucky to have him.

This morning Brian Burke and the Ducks put netminder Ilya Bryzgalov on the waiver wire. He was available to any and all teams to take at no cost but his $1.36 million dollar salary.
The reason Burke put Bryz on waivers? He was keeping his word. It's so refreshing! Read it again, it's even better the second time.

Over the summer, Bryzgalov, Anaheim's dependable back-up goalie, asked for a trade. He wanted to go to a team where he could get more of an opportunity to play. Every athlete aspires to play every night and be the man; Bryzgalov is no different. He knew it wasn't going to happen in Anaheim, playing behind all-world goalie J.S. Giguere.

Burke was more than happy to comply. He gave Bryzgalov and his agent a time line and said that if he wasn't traded by, it seems, today, Burke would put him on waivers and give 29 teams a shot at him.

From Burke:
"Ilya Bryzgalov has won three playoff rounds for us and has played very well. But we've committed ourselves to two other goaltenders in Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller. I told him if I couldn't find (him) a place to play, I would put him on waivers. I gave his agent Don Meehan a time frame, and we're keeping our word to a player. As an organization, we find that to be important. He's a good kid, we know he'll get picked up and he'll play well wherever he goes. He's done his part for us over the last two seasons, and it's time we kept our word."

Wow. Burke is awesome! He's like the Bryan Colangelo of hockey. He cares about his players and appreciates what they do, but above all else, Brian Burke is a man of principal.

Burke turned around the Vancouver Canucks when he was the general manager out in Van-City. He made them a competitive team by sticking to his guns. When Peter Schaefer held out for more money on his contract a few years ago, Burke let him sit, refusing to give the always-underachieving Schaefer a penny more than what he thought he was worth. Schaefer ended up missing a whole season because he wouldn't sign Burke's final contract offer. Finally, Schaefer was dealt to Ottawa. The lesson? Don't mess with Brian Burke. You will lose.

When Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punched Steve Moore, it was a despicable act. But Bertuzzi was Brian Burke's player, and although the circumstances were extremely difficult, Burke supported and stuck by Bertuzzi throughout the whole incident. It's not a coincidence that once Bertuzzi became a free-agent this past summer, he went back to Anaheim and his good friend Brian Burke.

The sports world needs more men like Brian Burke, a man of principal who shows loyalty to not just the superstars, but even to the back-up goalie's of the world...