SUN Hockey Pool

Lowe no Mr. Nice Guy

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

A week after Kevin Lowe's offer sheet for $21.25 million over five years went unmatched by the Anaheim Ducks, Dustin Penner is an Edmonton Oiler.

And Anaheim GM Brian Burke is still taking it personally.

Burke is still seeing Lowe as a dirty, rotten, despicable, no-class, gutless lowlife of a general manager.

The Ducks boss said goodbye to Penner yesterday and sounded like he was saying so long to his longtime friendship with Lowe as well.

"It's not a priority for me to mend this fence," he said of Lowe and a relationship as close as any in the business.

"If I don't think they make sense and I match them, then ... I'm just as dumb as the team that made the offer," said Burke.

"We're going to take three draft picks back and, given Kevin's recent performance, I expect them to be excellent picks."

A drum roll and a rim shot would have worked rather well there.

Burke called the money "absurdly inflationary" and "inappropriate for what this player has done."

He added that the Penner offer and the Thomas Vanek $50 million offer sheet which preceded it and was matched by Buffalo "don't make sense. My anger is this offer impacts 30 teams - including the one which made the offer."

He challenged Lowe to identify any GM who thinks otherwise because his conversations indicate his peers are "180% diametrically opposed."

You get the idea. Burke made the quotes yesterday. Penner and Lowe made history.

"I figured if it was ever going to happen, it was going to happen to me," said Penner.

It all involved the unique complications of Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry being eligible for Group 2 restricted free agency next year and Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne still in limbo as they contemplate retirement.

"If I was a betting man, I would have said it was 50-50," said Lowe.

"At no point did I feel comfortable that they wouldn't match."

Lowe was soft-spoken in his conference call, which preceded Burke's.

"If you really want the player, then go after the player. We proved that with both offer sheets," he said of believing the player targeted would turn out to be worth the money and more.

"If Dustin continues to score goals at the clip he's been scoring, at some point of his contract he'll be highly underpaid," Lowe said.

"You have to take risks. I'm not saying this is a risk. Dustin is a tough player to contain and complements some of our forwards."

Lowe said you can't live life as a GM on the buddy system.

"A lot of the reaction, or overreaction, has seemed to be that because we're friends, we shouldn't be doing this to each other.

"Our responsibility is to our fan base and ownership. I'm not in the business of trying to make friends.

"Every decision we've made has been a business decision. We had the cap room and the money to spend. From our point of view it was necessary to improve our hockey club. It's a historic day for the Edmonton Oilers and I can't wait for the season to start," said Lowe.

In there somewhere is the bottom line to all of this.

Nobody had been saying they couldn't wait to get this season started back on July 1.

Sure, the money is way out of whack for the first year or two. It's like that on Sheldon Souray's front-loaded contract, too.

For the first time ever, Lowe had the money to spend. And he couldn't spend it.

By unquestionably overspending it short term, he's made his hockey team better, maybe even good enough to get back in the playoffs. But the biggest thing he did here was to provide Edmonton with the No. 1 commodity there is to sell in sports. Hope.

And he didn't mortgage any of the future to do it.

What's the value of that?


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