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Poile: ‘I’m trying right now to apologize to Bobby Ryan’

Jan 3, 2014, 11:04 AM EDT

poilegetty Getty Images

And so, the fire extinguishing begins.

In the wake of Wednesday’s Team USA Olympic roster announcement — and the salacious behind-the-scenes selection committee piece on ESPN — American GM David Poile is trying to douse the flames of Brian Burke’s rip job on Bobby Ryan.

“I’m trying right now to apologize to Bobby Ryan,” Poile said on a Friday conference call. “I apologize as much as I can.”

Ryan, snubbed from the American team, was called “sleepy” by one selection committee member and had his passion questioned by Burke, who drafted Ryan second overall in 2005 and was part of the Team USA braintrust:

“[Ryan] is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary,” Burke says. “It’s never going to be in his vocabulary.

“He can’t spell intense.”

In trying to make amends, Poile said that Burke actually had Ryan on his final Olympic roster and offered up this “excuse” as well:

Poile also added the goal of having ESPN (and USA Today) involved in the meetings wasn’t to denigrate any player, and that as much good was said about Ryan as was bad.

Those good things didn’t make the ESPN piece, apparently.

Yesterday, Ryan addressed the remarks and called Burke “gutless.” The Ottawa forward also rebuffed Burke’s attempts to contact him and seemed genuinely upset over how he was portrayed.

“They were direct quotes and it’s unfortunate they feel that way,” Ryan told the Ottawa Sun. “That’s their opinions and they’ve got to form a team. I guess to a certain degree you have to respect it.

“You don’t have to agree with it, right? But you could have just cut me. You didn’t have to … Actually I almost feel degraded when it comes out like that. It is what it is. That’s their decision. That’s how they feel about it.”

  1. Brian - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    I read the article, and in fairness to Poile there was a fair bit said about Ryan that was positive. They talked about how he can do things when it comes to goal scoring that guys like Wheeler and Oshie can’t, which is true. Personally I think they made a mistake, but I can understand the reasoning, and they’re right in that if your coaches aren’t going to play Ryan in the top six he may not be worth having. In the end it’s not going to make a huge difference whether they have Wheeler or Ryan at the bottom of the roster.

    The really compelling quote in the Burnside piece that I’m surprised no other outlets like this one seem to have picked up on is that Burke said flat out that he wishes he’d taken Jack Johnson second overall in 2005 instead of Ryan. There’s an interesting line of thought.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      It’s an insane line of thought.

      I guess you could make the argument that Johnson’s development has been ruined or sidetracked but the Kings did a pretty decent job with another blue chip defenseman and despite having a few other veterans on D along with Doughty they’ve developed guys like Voynov, Martinez and Muzzin into relatively decent contributors.

      To be honest hearing Burke say this tells me he’s either let his ego get in the way yet again and is kicking Ryan while he’s down, or he is just too wrapped up in “intangibles” to be able to take a clear view of a player’s impact on the ice because Johnson has been profoundly disappointing so far.

      Ryan has his limitations but he allowed the Ducks to survive with simply atrocious forward depth for years and then still returned three first round draft picks in a trade this summer – I doubt that franchise regrets the pick at all.

      • Brian - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Yeah, it was a bit surprising to read how highly regarded Jack Johnson is among the US Hockey braintrust. I get that you want to reward the guys who’ve always answered the call before when asked, but Johnson is now 26 and seven full seasons into a career that, by most objective measures, has been pretty underwhelming. I would imagine Carolina also wishes Burke had taken Johnson at #2 also so they could’ve had Ryan. Although every team that drafted 2 through 10 should wish they took Anze Kopitar in that draft. It’s insane that he went #11. I love looking back at old draft years and seeing how insane they look now. How that draft went Crosby, Ryan, Johnson, Pouliot, Price, Brule, Skille, Setoguchi, Brian Lee, and Luc Bourdon (RIP) is hard to fathom. Keith Yandle went in the 4th round! Letang and Jon Quick and Ben Bishop all lasted until the 3rd!

        Oh to re-do a draft ten years later. Johnson would have a tough time going in the top 20. You’d go Crosby, Kopitar, Price, Rask, Letang, Ryan, Quick, Vlasic, Yandle, Neal, Staal, Stastny, and Hanzal before you’d even think about taking him.

    • scrouch - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      I also thought Burke saying he wished he hadn’t drafted Ryan was way worse than saying he wasn’t intense. And don’t really understand this love for Johnson either. He’s alright but has never really been great and isn’t having a good year. It isn’t like the guy has a great body of work to offset his current performance. He’s not terrible, just don’t have any idea why they seemed to really want to put him on the Olympic team because they ‘like’ the guy. And from Burke’s terrible defensive signings in Toronto with other players he ‘liked’ I don’t know how anyone could see him as a good judge of defensemen.

      I’m sure Johnson does okay at the World Championships but that’s because all the good offensive players in the league are back in North America during that time with their teams in the playoffs so it’s not anywhere close to being comparable to the Olympics. For example, last year the US had Trouba playing for them in the World Championships. He’s going to be a really good player but at the time had just signed a contract and I don’t think he’d played a single NHL game yet, the highest level he’d played was college. Ad he looked pretty good for them because tat isn’t a very good tournament. Anyway, in summary I completely agree it’s strange the media is focusing on the other comment which is pretty trivial IMO compared with saying he wished he didn’t draft him. And I don’t get the love for Jack Johnson.

  2. beyor35 - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Good old espn… they just love hockey…

  3. sabatimus - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Why should Poile apologize for something Burke said? Damage control coming from someone other than Burke just makes Burke look even more gutless.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      Well, it’s Poile’s team and Poile’s selection process and he probably also had a say in allowing reporters this kind of access to what was being said (by Burke and others).

    • greenmtnboy31 - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      Good point sabatimus. It’s Burke that needs to stup up.

      I do have a problem with Ryan calling him gutless. Have you seen the gut on that turd Burke lately?

      Spineless is probably a better description of Burke.

      • amityvillefun - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        Montreal fans know spineless very well, so we will take your word for it. :)

  4. Tristan - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    I love you Halford, but swing-and-a-miss on the idiom “fan the flames”. It means exactly the opposite of defusing a situation.
    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/fan-the-flames

    • Mike Halford - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Ah crud, there was originally a “pardon the pun” in there with a reference to Burke working for the Flames. I killed it but forgot to kill the actual idiom. Thanks for the catch. I love you too.

    • sabatimus - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Good call Tristan, I kept reading that and thinking I’d misread it.

  5. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    why is burke gutless…?

    he didn’t dress it up…he expressed his views on a player while filling his appointed role as an advisor…he’s brutally honest and avoids sugar-coating things for underachieving millionaires

    if fault is to be found, aim it at the putz who in my opinion, betrayed a confidence implicit through inclusion in a tough selection process by taking the commentary out of the room…kick his ass…hard and and long

    there are waaaay too many media hacks out there in all walks without any sense of feeling for persons subject to injury through needless exposé [ avery's sloppy seconds comes to mind ]

    i hurt for these young guys who have their dreams interrupted by the cold truth, but in ryan’s case, burke nailed it on the head…he lacks intensity…the bare but honest truth…it could be argued he’s too damn nice a kid to be playing in the hurly burly on any night

    if intensity is criterion for olympic selection, so be it, ryan has not grown in that regard since vancouver

  6. sens101 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Leaving Ryan off the team will be a mistake in the end. They have so many forwards that can fill the role of a “bottom six” forward (ie. energy, physical play, etc.) see David Backes, Ryan Kesler, Ryan Callahan, Joe Pavelski, Dustin Brown. While the have some good proven scorers in kessel, Kane and Parise, if one of those three go down during the tourney, they will be in big trouble. Scoring depth is probably one of the most important assets a team can have in this tournament. I’m a sens season ticket holder and have watched every home game this season. While I can definately see how Ryan is perceived to lack intensity by the way he skates, He is a physical player who is pretty good along the boards and has game breaking hands and a goal scoring touch, which i think the american team will be sorely lacking when they need to get an important goal to tie or take the lead late in the game. He is also an underrated passer who would be amazing for their second pp unit. I’m not saying this as a sens fan as i am happy he will be well rested (though i believe there is a correlation between olympic success and coming back to the NHL and performing well). I think goal scoring will be a big issue for the US team looking to play a defensive style on a big ice surface against offensively potent teams such as Sweden, Canada and Russia.

    • scrouch - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      I think it would have been smart to have him for their powerplay but I can also see them not taking him for a tournament on international sized ice. HIs physical play and work along the boards are going to be much less important in this tournament than skating will be. Aside from powerplay situations.

  7. 2qswing - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    ESPN can’t spell Hockey. If the NHL continues to seek their approval, they will soon own the league.
    College football, nba, nfl worship at the espn alter. Make no mistake ESPN calls the shots on scheduling, merchandising, and much more. Let them stay with the all Lebron all the time league.

    All this back tracking by Poile is really funny. Burke has tried to reach out to Ryan. But you can only make the call. If Ryan doesnt want to talk to him .. who’s gutless. Burke was just doing his job as an advisor and he was not the only one in the room with a similar opinion.

    • m1k3g - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      If I were Ryan, I wouldn’t give Burke the time of day either. I used to be a fan of Burke’s, but as time time passes he just seems like a loudmouth that holds grudges.

  8. pastabelly - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    Apologize to USA Hockey and fans of Team USA while you’re at it. Blake freaking Wheeler made this team and Ryan did not. Disgraceful.

  9. joey4id - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    It’s pretty obvious that Burke had no intentions of sparing Ryan. It was a personal attack, rather than a hockey related comment. There are many ways to spin why a player wasn’t selected. A personal attack is by far the most crude. Never liked Burke, and I never will.

    • T.D. - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Since winning the Cup with the Ducks, Brian Burke has proven that his “formula for success” is all bluster and no bite. He acts rashly and impulsively, then frequently doubles down on his obviously bad decisions and, despite being an aggressive and bristly person, easily takes offense and holds long-term grudges for either minor or seemingly non-existent affronts. That he personally attacked Bobby Ryan seems to elicit the obvious question as to why people seem to think that he is somehow fit to be part of the USA Olympic program.

  10. beergold - Jan 3, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Rob Ford was the only person in Toronto that was sad to see Burke leave!

  11. hazlydose - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    I hope you all enjoyed the article because there isn’t going to be another one for the next selection.

  12. shaundre93 - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Thanks Burke, now we’ll never have this kind of access again. He could have just said he didn’t see Ryan in the top 6, and didn’t like him in the bottom 6. Didn’t need to make a personal attack on him. I was shocked when he said he should have taken Jack. That’s the most d-bag thing ive ever heard a GM say about a former player

    Awesome article though, made a lot of sense out of some of their decisions, especially that of Yandle, Bishop and Ryan. I get the impression in Burkes mind he is the smartest hockey mind in NHL history, he can be obnoxious. I think he was too concerned about intangibles, it seems that usually talent and/or a hot goalie win every Olympics, especially on big ice. We’ll see I guess. After reading, I still have a couple Q’s

    Can someone tell me what Im missing in Faulk? Havent seen him much, Im sure the brain trust knows best but I would have taken E Johnson

    Why not Galchenyuk over Stepan? Sounded to me as if they weren’t very high on Stepan, and they took him only cause he’s a C. Galchenyuk would bring more speed and I think is just a better player right now

  13. jbeagles23 - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Team USA is competing for third. Who cares who gets selected

    • dolphincult - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:37 PM

      I have no prob with stating USA will compete for bronze beagle but I also know that any anti hockey usa, anti-poile or anti burke comment will be removed by tomorrow. Big brother and PHT…..same thing

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