Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Brian Burke - Hidden Agenda?


With good hockey news in short supply, leave it up to the hockey writers, such as the Province's (our local version of birdcage liner) Ben Kuzma, to make some stew out of some innocent (and some not-so-innocent) comments than *perhaps* is warranted.

On the other hand, I know Burke knows he's gone into a rather lukewarm hockey market and inherited a rather mediocre roster overall. There are plenty of changes to be made in Anaheim as Burke sets the course for his vision, so the media will be working overtime to drum up some animosity and gossip.

Let's analyze, shall we?

"The players are highly compensated and famous but they're employees," blurted Burke. "They're going to do things my way or we'll find them somewhere else to play."

We've heard this credo from managers before, and it's pretty much status quo to thump your chest a little and declare that changes will be made. The Ducks wouldn't have hired Burke if they didn't want some whips to be cracked.

On current Head Coach Mike Babcock:

"There's no reason why we can't arrive at a common ground or I would have made an announcement today that we're making a coaching change," said Burke. "He's going to get a fair shot."

Since Babcock's contract expires on June 30, why would Burke make an announcement either way? He can simply wait out the contract and then hire a new coach, or he can wait until the CBA to start making organizational moves.

...aaaaaaaand.... we know Brian Burke is going to want 'his' man to be coaching 'his' team. Mike Keenan didn't last long in Vancouver (and for other reasons) when Burke arrived, and Burke showed that he was willing to pay a high price (a 2nd or 3rd round pick to the Avalanche) to hire Marc Crawford. Burke isn't happy with just a pedestian defensive coach, and will want to hire a coach that can open it up a little.

Don't be surprised if Mike Babcock's contract is not renewed. I hope he's polishing that resume right about now.

Now, how about Sergei Federov and his albatross contract?

In Sergei Fedorov, Burke has a ticking time bomb. Not only does the enigmatic Russian hold the option on three more years at $8 million per season -- minus the expected 24 per-cent rollback in a new collective bargaining agreement -- there could be a fence to mend.

Fedorov's younger brother, Fedor, was a flop as Burke's 2001 leap of draft-day faith. Talented yet unteachable, the winger was once told to buy a house in Winnipeg because Burke doubted he'd ever stick with the parent club.

And when the elder Fedorov was on the free-agent market, Burke offered this response when asked if the Canucks were interested in the centre: "I've got one Fedorov already and that's too many."

Burke doesn't think that comment will come back to haunt him.

"I don't know if it's a problem for Sergei or not and I don't know why it would be because it's not a comment about him," he said.

Sergei is going to be a key player and he's going to get paid no matter what happens. I know Burke and the Ducks will be counting on Federov to 'lead' the Ducks on the ice, and I doubt that Burke's comments will really have a big impact on how Sergei plays. I'd worry more about the coach/player relationship than what Burke said about Fedor.

Then again, Sergei is tight with his bro', so who knows if Federov can put the Fedor/Burke relationship in the back seat with the groceries.

It's fun to speculate and drum up controversy where little or none may exist, so it's easy to see why the media has to resort to producing such material. Why report real news when you can become a rumour mouthpiece like Al Strachan? Yeehaw!

that is missing the entire fact that there are no bonuses,buy-out clauses,and/ or guarenteed contracts. every single one of those is a negotiated point with the players having almost no power.

The owners would love nog uarentees but even they don't expect that will fly,but buy out contracts being cheaper? you bet. options on existing contracts being modified? posibly.

talk about worring about nothing!!
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