Burkie disses Sun over Kadri photo

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:50 PM ET

TORONTO - Tuesday when I glanced at our sports cover — the infamous Prince and the Pacifier edition — was very Bart Simpsonesque. That is, I instantly became the ‘I Didn’t Do It’ Boy.

Sure enough, soon after arriving at the office — and yes, we do work out of an office, with real desks and chairs and arrowheads — the first of many angry emails arrived.

One reader, who courageously identified himself as “R” suggested that the pacifier-in-the-mouth gag was my idea because I was the “head idiot” at the Toronto Sun, although I’m sure our Editor-in-Chief James Wallace would take exception to that. (And, by the way, I knew James Wallace when he was Jamie Wallace. He didn’t talk to me then either).

Even Bubba got into the act.

“Dad,” she said. “Your front cover was really embarrassing.”

“Don’t worry, Bub,” I replied. “I’m sure Nazem Kadri will get over it.”

“Who’s Nazem Kadri?” she said. “I’m talking about that picture of you.”

Bub’s quite a girl.

Later, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, who rarely gets angry about anything, uttered that now famous line: “The (Toronto) Sun has great value if you own a puppy or a parakeet.”

As my witty colleague Rob Longley later twittered ... “Ouch.”

Yes, he twittered “Ouch”.

And then, virtually every media outlet in the GTA slapped the quote on their website or used it in their broadcast.

Which proves once again ... when it comes to the Leafs, the media in this town (a certain evil tabloid included) are like hungry chicks demanding to be fed, and Burkie is the mother with the worm.

He says something and everybody chirps.

“He reminds me of the Wizard of Oz,” former Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish once said of Burkie. “You comb his hair, put a white shirt on, wheel him out in front of the camera and he’ll say whatever you guys want.”

But you have got to give Burkie props for the parakeet line. It’s a classic.

In fact, I’m going to buy a parakeet and teach it to squawk: “Truculence and pugnacity! Truculence and pugnacity!”

But here’s the thing. I understand Burkie sticking up for Kadri (if that, in fact, was what he was doing).

And I can understand not everyone appreciating the pacifier gag, especially Nazem Kadri.

But what I don’t understand is the rage. And not just about that cover. Hey, I grew up in Toronto and was a big Leafs fan. The passion and devotion? I get it. But, yikes ...

I covered the Raptors for years and when you were hard on the Raptors or made fun of the Raptors, nobody flipped out. Or, at least, nobody launched ugly, venomous attacks. Hell, the Toronto media pretty much ran Rob Babcock out of town and nobody batted an eye.

But there’s a segment of Leafs fans that go nuts at the smallest perceived slight against the blue and white.

I didn’t realize just how horrible a human being I was until I started writing about the Leafs.

Forget Jesus. It’s a good thing that John Lennon wasn’t quoted as saying that the Beatles were bigger than the Leafs. Then he really would have been in trouble. People tend to forget that Leafs games are played Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre, not Sunday morning at St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The Leafs are a sport, a distraction. And sport is supposed to be about fun. You get up, you go to work, you come home, kiss the dog, pat the wife, eat dinner, watch the Leafs and then go to bed.

And in the morning, you watch the highlights or, if you’re old, you read about the game in the newspapers.

Becoming enraged should not be part of the equation.

Particularly over a team that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup for 43 years.


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