Friday, February 3, 2012

Dr. Integrity or: How I Learned To Stop Hating and Love Brian Burke

(Photo via
I was watching George Stroumboulopoulous Tonight on CBC a few nights ago and I experienced a revelation. Brian Burke, President and General Manager of your Toronto Maple Leafs, had a sit down with the talk show host and after his interview, I realized that I don't hate him. I might actually almost love that man. Here's the reason why I had a change of heart (but not allegiance).

My negative history with Burke starts with his time as GM of the Ducks when Anaheim beat the Sens in the 07 Stanley Cup final. That's where the hate began to grow. Burke eventually became a member of the Leafs organization and, well, that little seed of hate became something quite bigger. I can't cheer for anyone who is associated with Ottawa's bitter provincial rival.

All non-Leafs fans consider Burke as a loud mouth windbag that has his agenda on blast at all time. After seeing him hang out with Strombo, my perception of Burke took a serious 180. Burke isn't an ass, he's a man of principal and integrity, which is what I totally strive to be on a daily basis. He spoke on his comments about the "rats" in the NHL and how they're ruining the league. I agree with Burke since too many players are taking liberties and aren't ready to drop the gloves. It's called accountability and I believe in it too. After Strombo Tonight, Brian Burke's stock has risen 100,000 points on the P&B Reputation Stock Exchange (PBRSE).

Here are a few snippets from the interview that I thought were awesome and in line with my personal views (and he's a Democrat! I would've never guessed that):

Burke on Tim Thomas and his White House snub:

"I've been to the White House with the Stanley Cup. I'm a lifelong Democrat, and I was there with a Republican President. I didn't feel it was my place to make any observations about that at all...That's a celebration of team excellence. That's not a political statement...I can tell you what would happen if that was Tim Thomas on my team. I would've said 'You really don't have a choice here. You have to go, it's for your team. And I'm not backing you up on this. I'm gonna take the public view that what you've done here is wrong and I'm not backing you up.' And I love backing up my players."

Burke on his community:

"I think the General Manager of a Canadian (NHL) team has a loud voice whether he's loud or not, and I'm loud...I've tried to make a difference, every place I've worked in the NHL, I've tried to make a difference in that community. It's much easier in Canada because of the role the General Manager has, and so I think people in Toronto know that I love the city. I love living here, do as much charity work as I can, I do as much work with the police and the military as I can. And I want to make a difference. Every where I worked I want to make a difference."

Burke speaking on tolerance and acceptance:

"The best thing about my son coming out is that I didn't have to take anything back. And that's what I tell parents...In our house, everything was about acceptance. No racial humour tolerated. No jokes about gay people. No jokes about handicapped people. It was all 'everyone is worth your time.' Everyone has dignity and deserves your respect. And so when my son said "Dad I'm gay", the best thing was that I didn't have to take anything back. I don't have to apologize for anything, didn't have to rebuild any bridge, and that's what I tell parents. For the kids that are battling with coming out, it does get better. There is a support group, and you're entitled to live your life."

I highly recommend you check out the entire interview (click here) since he drops more nuggets of Burkian wisdom. I've gained much respect for Mr. Burke and realize that he's a man of integrity. Not some loud GM with one of the toughest hockey jobs in the League, as he's perpetually in the hot seat. He speaks his minds without pulling punches and gets straight to the point. Some will find him abrasive. Others will say that he's rude. I say that you should try listening to his message. You can't spell integrity without "grit", and that's what Brian Burke is all about.




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