Burke ducks question

STEVE SIMMONS,SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Brian Burke's arrival in Toronto -- for an early season game between two struggling teams -- constitutes all kinds of news.

Exactly what kind of news is open to interpretation.

The television networks have called, setting up four different interviews for four different shows. The radio stations have called: This doesn't happen when any other general manager comes to Toronto.

This is what happens now with Burke, with Toronto, with all the innuendo, with contracts unsigned, and a general manager search still in place with the Maple Leafs.

For the record, Burke is steamed, which for him means today is Tuesday. He was born angry. Only this time, the reason is slightly different.

Instead of being ready to take on the world -- which is his way of saying hello -- Burke is upset about the state of the Anaheim Ducks, a good team gone bad. He's upset about it but also cognizant enough that the media fascination about his future is not the sidebar to tonight's Leafs-Anaheim Ducks game, but the main event.

How many times will the cameras zoom in on him tonight?

How many times will someone wonder what it all means?

Burke, to his credit or discredit, put in one basic rule for his interviews while in Toronto. You get one question about his future.

Ask a second question and "I get up and leave."

So I broke the rule on the telephone yesterday and he didn't hang up. I asked a second question. I might have asked a third. The answers were basically the same each time, only increasingly louder.

"If you think or anyone else thinks that I'm thinking about my future or how (early season problems in Anaheim) impacts it, you don't know me very well. All I care about is getting back to .500 and climbing back to the playoffs," Burke said.

"Anyone who thinks I'm worried about my future should go get a drug test."

Before making the trip to Toronto, an Anaheim television reporter asked Burke if he considered passing on the Leafs game.

The implication was clear. Is Burke, coming to Toronto at this time in the season, at this point in history, a distraction to his struggling hockey club, which is supposed to be a contender?

"First off, I did not consider not coming on this trip," Burke said.

"Our team is struggling. We have a game (tonight). I have the Lester Patrick tomorrow (being awarded for contributions to hockey in the United States). Just because the Toronto media is fascinated with my future ... I tell everyone the same thing. I've been treated great in Anaheim. There are some contract issues. I have some family concerns I'd like to see addressed. Can we move on from that?"

There are only seven general managers working in the National Hockey League who have led their teams to the Stanley Cup. One of them is running the Leafs right now.

UNAVAILABLE

The only multi-time winners -- Glen Sather, Ken Holland and Lou Lamoriello -- either are not available or not what the Leafs would want at this time. After that, there is Bob Gainey in Montreal, who already turned down the Leafs and Jim Rutherford in Carolina, whom the Leafs seemingly have little fascination with.

That leaves Burke -- the leading candidate and maybe the only candidate to run the Leafs next season.

But first, there is a contender to fix. And moves to be made.

"We have an organizational motto -- no complaints, no excuses," said Burke, whose Ducks have one win this season and the worst special teams in the NHL. "We're not going to panic. I'm going to be patient a little longer. But if this continues, we will be making changes. I don't care if it's hard or not."

One change he won't be making is firing his coach.

"Randy Carlyle is as safe as a baby in a car seat in a Hummer," said Burke.

"Every coach has a shelf life and the harder (you are) on players, the shorter the shelf life is. But that said, we're not doing anything about our coaching.

"People say you can't make trades anymore but I've had some simply marvellous trade proposals in the last few days. A lot of teams are anxious to help us out."

One team might even be anxious to acquire their general manger.

"This isn't about me," said Brian Burke.

It never is.


Photos