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‘It’s on us’ — Poile takes blame for published comments

Jan 3, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

David Poile

A misunderstanding between USA Hockey and the two media organizations, USA Today and ESPN, that were invited into the Americans’ Olympic-roster selection process is to blame for the damage control that team general manager David Poile is being forced to undertake.

“I thought we had an understanding that we were able to review some of this content,” Poile told Sportsnet’s Hockey Central today (video).

“It came as a total surprise to us when we announced the team in Ann Arbor two days ago that both Kevin Allen’s and Scott Burnside’s articles came out,” added Poile. “I, and we, had no knowledge of that. To me, this is a situation between USA Hockey and what we thought should’ve happened. It’s on us; it’s not on the writers, other than I wish, with Scott in particular, his judgment would have been a little bit different, especially on the Bobby Ryan comments.”

In a way, this whole episode is reminiscent to what happened in Vancouver in October, when some — well, let’s just call them comments — Joe Thornton made in the dressing room were published, much to the dismay of the Sharks.

What exactly is on the record? That’s the key question. In each case, each side thought differently.

Of course, in the Thornton case, the writer was blamed by the organization (not to mention some in the media). In this case, Poile isn’t doing that. (“It’s on us,” he said.) However, it’s obvious he didn’t expect any of the more salacious comments that were made during the selection process to be published.

“This should never have come out,” Poile said. “That’s the bottom line.”

  1. joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    How about not having the press present when you are evaluating the players? Seems to me like the smart thing to do. A bit of professionalism is in order when you are the head of a selection committee. You look as bad as that trainer on the Russian team who made inappropriate gestures towards the USA bench during the world junior championship. You are professionals, whereas he was a mere amateur trainer. C’mon! Guys! And put a muzzle on Burke.

    • shaundre93 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      That was an awesome read though, and really clarified for me a few of the decisions they made. Couldn’t agree more with putting the muzzle on Burke, I think everyone would benefit from that. I just wish the writers would have a little more discretion. It’s usually pretty obvious what you should and shouldn’t print, and this was one of those. This guy was one of two writers trusted to be a part of the entire selection process. He really dropped the ball by printing something so detrimental to Team USA, and because of that we wont be getting access like this in the future. I hope this guy gets black balled by the NHL now. He deserves it for turning what should have been the best pre-Olympic write up into this stupid controversy

      • flash8910 - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        If it’s so detrimental, then it should have never been said. In this day and age, things said behind closed door still come to light. There is this thing called professionalism. You shouldn’t say something about someone behind their back that you wouldn’t say to their face in a professional atmosphere.

        Right Things to Say
        1. I feel with the larger ice surface, I want a faster team so I think Wheeler is a better fit than Ryan.
        2. I feel we have enough right shot offensive defenseman, so I don’t think we need Yandle.

        Wrong Things to Say
        1. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word intense.
        2. I expect disaster with him every time.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        These players are also professionals who get paid well to play the game, they should be able to deal with a critique and how others view their game without getting emo about it. If they don’t like what was said, work your butt off and get better to put those doubts to rest.

        Beside that the comments were somewhat taken out of context, by those reporting these “inflammatory” comments not the original story itself, the comments were in regards to Ryan playing a specific role on the team, essentially 3rd or 4th line agitator or energy player, and his inability to do that, Burke then says if he’s going it needs to be as a goal scorer. Seriously what is wrong with that?

  2. jaybyrd99 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    Quick question – wasnt sure where to ask this but:
    You’re choice, do you want your nhl team to win the cup or country to win gold?
    I’m more of an nhl guy so my team winning the cup is much more important , especiallly with nhlers scattered across countries, some of them playing for my team ( lundqvist)My main goal when watching the olympics is hoping that no player from the rangers gets hurt and watching some good hockey.
    I believe there’s no right or wrong here , just curious as to what others think.

  3. jaybyrd99 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Bad grammar – stupid mini ipad . Your choice not you’re among other mistakes.

  4. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:31 PM


    what a bunch of light-in-the-loafer prancers…
    pilloried…horse-whipped…flayed alive…boiled in oil…drawn and quartered…ten hours of slim whitman at 120 decibels…or

    in-game hockey pointers from eddie olczyk…?

    noooo, that would be too inhumane…we’re not communists after-all

  5. charlieconway96 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Seems like leaving the press out of what should be closed door meetings would be easy enough.

    • hosewater2 - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      Agree. Media created this problem. Carry on Brian Burke.

  6. lowenni - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    I loved the article and it was really interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look into the selection process, but I do agree that the writer of it should’ve given them a chance to look it over and also should’ve had better discretion to begin with. That being said, Burke (who is no stranger to shooting off his mouth) should’ve been wary of what he was saying.

    The thing is, there were plenty of not-so-positive comments on other players in the article. Ryan’s is just getting a lot of attention because of his remarks surrounding it and because he is the biggest snub from the team.

  7. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 3:36 PM


    hoist the cup…win the gold

    a quiet afternoon helping zooey deschanel out of her sun dress is my choice…

    every time

  8. hosewater2 - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Go ahead Poile, take all the blame. I’m sure those poor writers Kevin Allen and Scott Burnside had no idea that what they published would be incendiary. Unprecedented access exploited to the max means unprecedented access won’t happen again.

  9. flash8910 - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    The Burnside and Allen articles were two of the best pieces that I have read in a long, long time. The amount of information offered was amazing. I truly thank them for this to us.

    It paints a terrible picture of USA hockey and the some members of the selection committee. In a perfect world, some of these guys should no longer have jobs, but it probably won’t happen. Personnel decisions based on dreams. Egotistical blowhards going all lengths to prove who has the biggest dick. There was a complete lack of professionalism.

    I hope they take a serious look at the process. This shouldn’t be like Animal House where they show a picture of a pledge, and throw beer cans at the screen.

    • Jason Brough - Jan 3, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      “We need the dues.”

  10. atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    The Burke comments really weren’t that bad when you read the entire thing, he gave pros and cons on a player, and in the end he included that player on his team, he was overruled though.

    These types of evaluations happen everyday in every walk of life, Bobby Ryan isn’t special in this case, I’m sure every country is saying similar things about players in their evaluations, and you know what?…front offices and scouting staffs are gonna say similar things when they evaluate players on their rosters and draft prospects. Actually we can take it a step further, I’m sure many youth coaching staffs have similar conversations and evaluations when evaluating players from try outs, the press just doesn’t have access to it.

    • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      So, Bobby Ryan is up in arms for no reason whatsoever. Firstly, Burke thrives on confrontations, and shows zero diplomacy. He’s a straight shooter that won’t mince his words to say what he has to say. When you like that it often comes back to bite you, and you find yourself at the end of the line trying to explain yourself, which he tried to do with Ryan. It’s best not to attack someone personally unless you’re telling them to their face. There are always 2 ways to say things. One is with tact and diplomacy. He could have said what he had to say with a little more respect towards the person he was speaking about.

      The same holds true for all types of evaluations in every walk of life. Same also holds true for every country evaluating players behind closed doors, and for scouts and staffs when evaluating prospects. Same thing applies to coaches at youth level. So, no BS please.

      Unless you’ve been in every meeting in every country, in every youth league then you don’t know what you’re talking about. Yes! There are people like Burke who just like to piss on people for whatever reason. I know that this type of behavior is not the norm. Guys like Burke usually have more respect for their dogs. Burke used inappropriate comments; “That word is not in his vocabulary,” “It’s never going to be in his vocabulary. He can’t spell intense.” Not everyone is like Burke. I’m sure it won’t bother him if someone wrote that he didn’t know how to spell “diplomacy”. He loves that about himself.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:52 PM

        He didn’t attack him personally, he gave an honest assessment of a player’s abilities, granted he said it in a colourful manner, but he didn’t seem to say anything that the other guys weren’t already saying. Frankly he seemed to be one of the only people actually arguing for Ryan’s inclusion on the team.

        You’re right Brian Burke would agree with you about his ability to be diplomatic, or tactful, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Brian Burke would say the exact same thing to Ryan’s face if Ryan were there, and in fact HE DID, Ryan admitted as much yesterday in his interview when he said the Burke used to tell him the same thing when he was a pudgy 18 year old who had never been in a gym, and that’s Ryan’s self assessment.

        And yes Ryan is up in arms for no reason, he should be upset that he didn’t make it but every talent evaluator in that room (according to the Burnside article) felt the same way about Ryan, that should tell him it’s not one guy with a vendetta but rather an actual valid critique of his game, he should quit acting like a baby and use it as motivation to become a better all around player.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        atwater, When have you selected a hockey player to make a team based on his vocabulary or ability to spell? I know it wasn’t being literal, but it’s a little over the top. Why did Burke need to kick Ryan? I’ve written it before here, and I’ll write it again, it was payback for stuff that happened while they were with the Ducks.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:56 PM

        You’re being way too literal here, he was speaking in hyperbole not questioning Ryan’s intelligence. If you read the entire article you’ll see that Burke speaks in hyperbole often, he said that if commits a murder he wants Lombardi as his lawyer, I don’t think he actually expects Lombardi to go to Law school and pass the bar but rather being over the top about Lombardi’s ability to persuade people. In Ryan’s case he was saying that he doesn’t play with an edge (like a Crosby or Ovechkin, Iginla etc) it’s not who he is so don’t expect it.

        I don’t think it was “kicking” Ryan at all, I think he was protecting Ryan (by again being over the top) and telling the other evaluators not to take him as a certain type of player that he’s not (in this case as a guy who could fill in at any role the team needs him for) and would likely fail at, instead he’s this type of player, if he were to be selected he needs to be as the type of player he is.

        The context of the comments on their own vs how they actually fit into the entire process and story are two very different things. There’s no doubt Burke was guilty of being over the top in hyperbole but I have no doubt in my mind that he wasn’t trying to be overly demeaning towards Ryan.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        I know, and is said as much about him not being literal. And I understand the context, and you explained it very well. I just think he went over the line. He just sounds bitter all the time. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet different celebrities and athletes in my travels, and the ones I have spoken with have been very friendly. I happened to notice Burke one day across the room in Orange County, and believe you me I made sure to stay clear because he just doesn’t strike me as the personable type willing to talk about hockey with a mere hockey fan like me. Anyway. We may have to agree to disagree on this one.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:28 PM

        That’s fair, we’re both entitled to our opinions and I respect your’s.

        I have to say though, I think you missed an opportunity with Burke there, from what I’ve heard he’s actually very engaging and always willing to share stories over a cold pint. Maybe he was having a bad day?

        I will leave you with this, part of my positive image of Brian Burke has to do with late April 2006, his Ducks had just dispatched the Flames in 7 games, he sent a letter to the editor to both Calgary papers thanking Flames fans for the way we acted and how we treated his team, I thought this was a very classy move and appreciated it. Also (I’m not 100% sure of this one! only 90%) during 1999 the Flames were in real trouble and there was a save the Flames campaign to try and sell season tickets, Brian Burke bought season tickets despite having no ties to the city at the time.

        Again these two things, along with him being in charge of the Flames, give me a positive image of him, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on things, I understand other people may not feel the same way.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:46 PM

        atwater, Thumbs up! 😉

  11. pastabelly - Jan 3, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    I have this figured out. Brian Burke suspects that Bobby Ryan was the anonymous “Slobberface” that he sued for online defamation and this was his way of getting even after the Hazel Mae affair allegations. Burke sounds like a real prize.

  12. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:43 PM


    nice attempt at humour…droll…very

    burke hasn’t sued anyone for anything…

    i’m sure the rocket surgeons passing judgement on mr. burke herein would understand he as plaintiff, would need both name and an address of any would-be defendant…i’ve never come across incidence in law wherein a virtual entity was dragged into any court…?

    outside of using electronic media to incite or induce crimes against children or bullying among minors generally, privacy laws in canada and the extent to which internet carriers use those privacy laws to protect their clients make burke’s task impossible…these matters are being defended by those carriers before the supreme court in the moment…

    the carriers will win…their client base includes everyone who uses the internet: every politician, every law firm, every bank and every other corporation transmitting confidential material would be subject to scrutiny on any whimsy…is that going to happen…

    not without proving cause…what cause…the would-be defendants operate under pseudonym…i call to the stand, howdy doody, he of no corporeal form or fixed address…?

    and, personal information gained by any means outside of legal process is inadmissible, effectively killing any application to have a lawsuit certified…such would be the extent of prejudice to any defendant’s case…it’s difficult to use crime to prove crime…unless you’re the government of course

    were mr. burke able to legally acquire identities of those he wishes to see in court, he’d have the difficult task of proving malice and intent to harm, then produce measurable damages arising out of that malice…

    all that just to get the court to certify his lawsuit

    there is much in the way of common law protecting right to opinion, particularly if humour was intended…opinion and humour have wide spectrum in meaning

    nooo, the keyboard heavies beating these boards at the expense of mr. burke’s reputation are likely safe…i hardly think he could give a fat rat’s ass what any of us think about his innocuous remarks about bobby ryan’s skating ability or level of intensity

    it would seem mr. burke is entitled to an opinion and effort at humour himself

  13. jimw81 - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    those articles just showed us that the process reaks the hands of polie,shero and byslma while holmgren and burke sat in the background to watch them fail. Burke comments about ryan was to protect them and defect any blame that going to come during olympics.

    anyone notice in articles that holmgren started to distance himself from the process after they told him basically shut up after he thought saad would be better for the team than wheeler.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:38 PM

      when I read the Burke comments in the context of the story I thought it sounded more like Burke defending Ryan to the others than anything else. He was saying that if they want Ryan as a 3rd or 4th line agitator or energy player he’s the wrong guy, if he’s selected it should be to score goals, otherwise they shouldn’t take him.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        If everything was on the up and up, then explain why Burke and Poile are in damage control and feel they need to apologize?

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:11 PM

        Is Burke in damage control? I live in Calgary, listen to the Fan 960 (the Flames flagship station) and while they’ve talked quite a bit about this they haven’t said a word about Burke saying anything.

        Poile is apologizing because the media decided to print the partial out of context portions of the comments which has led to backlash against Team USA.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:49 PM

        Poile was I’m sportsnet that Burke tried to reach out to Ryan and his agent.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:55 PM

        atwater, check out this article. It indicates that Burke tried to reach out to Ryan, and also that you shouldn’t dump on peers and players.

  14. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:37 PM


    great post…great read…thanks…respect

    if bobby ryan cannot accept criticism on the level given in quotes from the offending article, i would be inclined to doubt his mental toughness and ability to endure the rigour of high level competition anywhere…

    softness plays many ways

    ryan’s petulance lacked maturity while enhancing negative perception already held…every bit as damaging to his chances in the present and in the future:

    had he been publicly stoic, resolving to make the grade next time around, wishing the winners all the best, waving the stars and stripes, ryan might have won a sochi berth regardless, were another selection injured late-on

    now he’s a distraction…out of the equation completely

    and, he’ll be facing the same jurors next time through…his task at regaining respect has been increased in proportion to the extent he offended the u.s. hockey brain trust…all with long memories

    i would have expected his handlers, family and agent particularly, should have had him dressed for both joy and disappointment beforehand

    it would appear conceit and expectation caught everyone short

    a shame really

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      I agree, how is he going to react when the Ottawa press writes unflattering things about him? Or if the Ottawa fans turn on him and boo him? The greats (at anything) have an ability to block out all negatives and all criticisms, or use them as fuel and rise above them. Everyone faces it adversity, it’s how we face that adversity that matters, Ryan handled this adversity poorly.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        How would you feel if you’re Brian Murray, GM of the Sens? Do you like to see players protect their teammates? I assure you that GMs like to protect their investments from degrading comments coming from a holes like Burke. Would Burke have said the same if either the coach or the GM of the Sens were present? Not sure.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        Okay now it just seems like you have an axe to grind with Burke, it doesn’t matter the context or trove of the comments, you were going to find fault with them.

        Murray should protect his own, that’s what teams do in this situation, but realistically why should he care what Burke thinks? If he’s happy with what Ryan is doing in Ottawa does it matter what others think? Does him being selected to team USA somehow validate Murray or his trade for Ryan more?

        I don’t think he’d ever admit it but while being disappointed for Ryan I’m sure that Murray isn’t upset with the fact that one of his stars is getting a nice mid season vacation, rather than having to travel to the other side of the world play a bunch of games in a short time span, face the possibility of injury, and deal with jet lag on both ends. I bet secretly he’s wishing that the Swedish Brian Burke (Hakkan Loob?) was telling his Ikea loving cohorts that Erik Karlsson has no intensity.

      • joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 8:59 PM

        Because what Burke said clearly offended Ryan. Other GM’s should not being putting down other players publicly. If you have time watch the sportsnet interview with Poile.

  15. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:00 PM


    i think you missed my point…

    i’m not arguing guilt or innocence…i’m arguing burke is attempting to sue and collect damages from people he has no means of finding through the medium under which he was alleged to have been damaged

    clue for the clueless: the same point is evident in your article…if burke can’t find would-be defendants, how can he measure or collect damages from ghosts…both would have to be assessed before legal representatives acting on behalf of would-be defendants should he actually find them

    were burke to pursue the matter through to the supreme court of canada, actually accomplish anything against work already done by battery upon battery of lawyers defending rights to privacy, overturn privacy laws virtually unassailable, then we’ll see if he collects any damages from these phantoms

    and, would-be defendants simply need to produce information in support of appeal any time within two years of burke actually being able to find them while seeking application of any court order arising from the default judgement…

    to the best of my knowledge, they found one guy who refused to be served…does that mean he’s guilty…good luck waving that argument around any court…it appears burke has been unable to serve would-be defendants with notice of action…how could he, he doesn’t know who or where they are…they could be anywhere on the planet…

    they too are entitled to due process…not having been properly served of burke’s notice of action, the current default judgement could be over-turned by a first year law student…then it would begin again…

    who knows what precipitated the hateful commentary, or the context under which it was aired

  16. vanfoodman - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    USA Hockey looks bush league and just plain foolish for agreeing to this and thinking they’d have editorial approval and didn’t. No blame for Burke, Scott Burnside of ESPN nor Kevin Allen from USA Today. This is all on USA Hockey for a lack of foresight cuz this was the wholly and obviously predictable outcome of letting the media peek behind the curtain. Wipe egg from face now and fire the bozo who championed this debacle and those who agreed to it.

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