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Toronto columnist rips “bully” Brian Burke

Dec 5, 2011, 6:07 PM EDT

Brian Burke AP

Quick, where’s the closest barn to the Air Canada Centre? Brian Burke might want to rent it after reading the latest column by the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons.

On the heels of the latest dust-up between the Leafs and the local media – this one featured coach Ron Wilson telling reporters Jonas Gustavsson would start Saturday, then starting James Reimer instead, after which Burke leapt to the defense of Wilson, ripping the media in the process – Simmons pulled no punches in his assessment of Burke’s relationship with Toronto’s sports journalists.

The atmosphere in Leaf land between Burke, Wilson to a degree, and the rather enormous press corps which covers the team, has grown more and more poisonous over time. And this is nothing new to Burke, although it’s taken more than three years for this to build to crescendo level here. In Vancouver, when he operated the Canucks he had serious run-ins with well-known columnists and radio talk show hosts, and those relationships, frankly, grew toxic over time.

Already this year, Burke has tangled with many voices of consequence in this market, feuding or cutting off columnists from the local papers for disagreeing with opinions, calling editors to complain about specific writers, questioning their methods of reporting or viewpoints he did not share. Burke is a great believer in freedom of speech — so long as he is doing the speaking.

But this role of president, general manager, sports editor, journalism school professor, bully, and social media activist, has gotten tiresome.

They say you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, but Burke seems to enjoy these little feuds.

PHT definitely enjoys them, so keep it up, everyone. Fight! Fight! Fight!

  1. acieu - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Just another Canadian who cannot stand it hat the Leafs ate having success under an American GM.

    • nolanorth - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:30 PM

      And your just another un-educated Yank who has watched the world pass you by. 1 category comes to mind is you spelling. I could go on about your employment and economic situation but were not bullies in Canada (except for Burke) And btw, only one city actually likes the Leafs.

      • djamesbart - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:02 PM

        Dear educated Canadian,
        Try not to make any grammar mistakes early in your grammar critique

    • haterzgonahate - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:31 PM

      in Canada, it’s hockey first. we don’t care whether you’re American, Russian, Swedish, Finnish etc… unless its the Olympics or World Juniors.

      it’s typical of an American to make a statement like that. why are you guys so quick to try and make a border war out of everything??

  2. whatswellydoing - Dec 5, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    The thing is, the Vancouver and Toronto media can be pretty damn ignorant at times…

  3. davebabychreturns - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Simmons is exactly correct that Burke is a bully – as Brough mentioned he seems to relish butting heads with the local press.

    That being said Simmons reads like a sore loser taking whatever shots he can at the guy holding all the cards.

    • bcisleman - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:27 PM

      He can be annoying, but not nearly so much as Simmons and Coxe. Reminds me of the Botta affair on the Island. Some sports media types (not all) like to whine.

  4. acieu - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:11 PM


  5. haterzgonahate - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    ya Burkie can be a pompous A-hole.. but i’m pretty sure that’s just an act he puts on for the media. personally i kinda like it.

    who you going to listen to? a pencil pusher? or the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs (highest grossing team in the NHL) who also has quite the education if i’m not mistaken?

  6. lameasish - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Speaking of grammar djamesbart, where is your period at the end of your sentence?

  7. shukey11 - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    If Simmons wasn’t such a d sock cucker and if he had of ever laced up a pair of skates I’d listen to him but he’s just a piece of crap writer. F*** steve

  8. swizzler16 - Dec 5, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    If Pratt vs. Burke’s wife went for round 2 on the air, it would really be the gift that keeps giving

  9. silverdeer - Dec 5, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Sounds like sour grapes to me (regarding the sports writer). Burke’s job is to put the best team on the bench so that his coach can put the best team on the ice. If the coach makes a last minute decision to change goalies so be it. Too often these writers think they know more than the people that are paid to make the decisions. Think about it. If this writer gets his panties in a bunch over something as this, I would have loved to see his response with Scotty Bowman behind the bench.

    • cshearing - Dec 6, 2011 at 7:55 AM

      The media whines when people call them on their bullshit. News at 11. Wait, no news at 11, we’ll just whine about the bad man yelling at us. Pathetic.

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