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Burke voices support for Reimer, rips ESPN

Sep 10, 2012, 1:45 PM EST

Brian Burke AP

Leafs GM Brian Burke was dying to comment on the CBA negotiations between the owners and players, but like Sabres owner Terry Pegula, he’ll let the NHL do the talking for owners and management.

“I wish I could say more,” Burke said today prior to a charity golf tournament, as per the National Post.  “I mean, you guys know me: ‘no comment’ is not something that comes out of these lips easily.”

Burke did, however, speak freely on a couple of other subjects.

First, he reiterated his support for his young, number-one goalie that’s coming off a tough sophomore season:

“We believe in James Reimer. We have said, from the get-go, that if we get the opportunity to upgrade at the goaltending position, we’re going to do it. That’s still the case. But it’s not a frantic search for a goaltender. We believe in James Reimer … We believe there’s no reason why he can’t be ‘the guy.’”

The Leafs are one of the teams believed to be kicking the tires on soon-to-be-former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

Burke’s other notable comment was directed at ESPN, which recently ranked the Leafs’ franchise dead last among all 122 in the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB.

Not surprisingly, Burke disagreed with that ranking:

“I don’t think ESPN knows a single thing about hockey. I think their hockey coverage stinks. I don’t think they know anything about Canada. I don’t think they know anything about hockey.”

  1. bcsteele - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    I mean no offense, but am I the only one that has this thought after Burke says:

    ““I don’t think ESPN knows a single thing about hockey. I think their hockey coverage stinks. I don’t think they know anything about Canada. I don’t think they know anything about hockey.”

    I’m not a Leafs fan but I wonder if they question whether he knows hockey considering he’s had the most profitable team in the NHL since 2008 and hasn’t really attracted much talent, it’s debateble how much he’s really aquired for them, and they haven’t been to the playoffs in years.

    Again I’m just curious because other than the stunt he pulled with the Sedins while he was with Vancouver (which was amazing and admirable and still benefitting the Canucks to this day), I’ve not seen him do just amazing things. I understand he won the cup with the Ducks but one could easily argue the majority of that team was already in place when he got there.

  2. jaredphi - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    I’m not a Toronto fan…and I don’t usually agree with anything Burke says or does, but:

    He’s 100% right in his comments about ESPN. They DON’T know anything about hockey and their coverage (ZERO NHL games) DOES stink.

    • hystoracle - Sep 10, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      ESPN’s coverage is poor. They only employ 1 hockey guy — that is if if Melrose counts as a hockey guy. But in their defense, they don’t have the contract rights to televise games in the US. NBC does. So, it is unfair to criticize them for not showing games they don’t have the rights to. They have hitched their wagon to the NBA and that is their primary concern. ESPN is about promoting ESPN and their programming. They stopped being interested in real sports news a long time ago.

      If you want hockey coverage – NBC Sportsnetwork or NHL Network are the only places to go in the US. (other than the local cable affiliate – and that could be minimal).

  3. ducksk - Sep 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Burke is not the “all knowing hockey man” he and others anointed him to be. I hope Him and that clown Cherry can stay north boo hoo.

  4. habsman - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Burke is the Rex Ryan of the NHL. All talk. He has done nothing to improve the Leafs in the off season and is committed to a goaltender who led them to 13th in the conference last year. I think its obvious that they are eying either Jones or MacKinnon in next years draft.

    • superross - Sep 10, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      Rex has a big mouth like Burke, but the Jets actually improved under Ryan. The Jets have made the playoffs 2 out of 3 years since Ryan has been in New York and last year they missed the playoffs by one game! The Leafs will never make the playoffs with Burke and I am fine with that!!!!

  5. tmoore4075 - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    While I think ESPN’s coverage sucks on tv, their online coverage is actually pretty good.

    And in saying that I can’t really argue against their ranking of the Leafs. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, spend as much money as the other big clubs and they have 0 results to show for it. Burke made a terrible move for Kessel and with that move stacked his division rival even more. So yeah you can say ESPN doesn’t know anything but I think they are pretty spot on with the Leafs. How about we look at their ranking of the Coyotes at 6?

  6. bmosh99 - Sep 10, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    I have to agree with him. ESPN doesn’t seem to know much about anything anymore

  7. freneticgarfieldfan - Sep 10, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    “We have said, from the get-go, that if we get the opportunity to upgrade at the goaltending position, we’re going to do it. That’s still the case.” …
    “We believe in James Reimer …We believe there’s no reason why he can’t be ‘the guy.”

    Those statements – in the same paragraph no less – make much sense, don’t they?
    What have you, BB, done to make the Leafs better? What have you done to get them away from #122 in that ESPN list? A few victories would maybe help. Ah, therefore you need to get off your high horse and do a few meaningful hockey moves. Is it allowed to ask then: how much do YOU know about hockey?

  8. davebabychreturns - Sep 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Burke does deserve some defending here.

    The Leafs were maybe the league’s biggest joke here and he gave them some legitimacy as an NHL team with the Kessel trade. Of course it turned out to be a huge mistake but there you are.

    He’s also won big on some trades – Phaneuf and Aulie (who he turned into Carter Ashton) for Matt Stajan, Nicklas Hagman and Ian White, and Francois Beauchemin for Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner. Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk could turn out to look pretty good as well if JVR can stay healthy.

    The organization’s prospect depth is probably better than it was when he started, and although the goaltending is still a big mess at least he’s come by his awful goaltending honestly (giving up little for Reimer and Scrivens and Gustavsson, especially when compared with the Rask/Raycroft deal or the number of picks the team gave up to get Vesa Toskala).

    Is Brian Burke anywhere near the GM he seems to think he is? No, probably not anymore. But he’s still got that team moving more or less in the right direction – even if they don’t do it fast enough to save his job.

    • davemac32001 - Sep 10, 2012 at 8:19 PM

      You can count on one hand the number of wingers who have outscored Kessel since he joined the Leafs. Sure, Seguin is very good, but this deal has not been a disaster by any measure. The Bruins sending a 1st rounder and a 2nd for Kaberle… now that’s a disaster

  9. alexb64 - Sep 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    It IS idiotic for ESPN to rank them worst franchise in sports. They still make a ton of money & are legitimately trying to put a winning team on the ice. This kind of distinction should be reserved for the franchises who hover near the cap floor or have owners whose constant meddling or media whoring are a hinderance.

  10. icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 10, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    One of the few times I agree with Burke. ESPN should just ignore hockey all together and leave it to NBC/NHLN/local markets.

  11. elemeno89 - Sep 10, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    well i won my pool. was wondering when he was gonna say something…

  12. sampulls - Sep 10, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Headline from 2013….Burke Let Go After Leafs Miss Another Playoffs.

  13. thedavesiknowiknow - Sep 11, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    ESPN pretty much sucks at covering sports as a whole. If you want to know about the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, the Miami Heat or “steamy celebrity gossip”, then it’s a respectable network with “intelligent” people speaking to their area of expertise. If you are a free thinking individual who happens to actually like sports, then it should make you sad to see how much sway this network has in the pro sports world.

    I liked that ESPN dumped the NHL for poker following the last lockout, only because it was (or should have been) a reality check to most NHL players. Obviously it wasn’t, but I digress.

    For once, Burke has a valid argument, and a reason to fill his diapers. ESPN sucks at what they supposedly do, and if you look to it for which NHL organization sucks the most, you probably do too.

  14. beergold - Sep 11, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    Burke is the Perfect talking head for an absolute joke of a NHL on ice hockey team.

    The Laffs don’t care about icing a good NHL calibre hockey team because the owners put huge amounts of cash into their pockets each year while icing a mid quality AHL hockey team.

    AND if anyone thinks that Kessel (who is afraid of his own shadow) is a better all around player than Seguin then keep drinking the kool-aid!

    ESPN might be a horrible example of prime time NHL coverage but they hit the nail on the head when it comes to describing the Laffs (and the entire Laff management team) as complete and utterly the worst! The kids fear being drafted by the Laffs and the real quality NHL regulars do not want to go there. What does that say?

  15. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    To be honest, Burke is actually the exact type of guy I would expect ESPN to hire for those rare occasions when they pretend to care about hockey.

    • beergold - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      you are bang on and perhaps when the Laffs get rid of him this might be a good place for him to take his BS and truculence. Heck take ALL of the Laff managment team that condones a joke on ice product year after year!

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