SUN Hockey Pool

Lowe boils over

Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe at the Darryl Katz press conference held today at Rexall Place....

Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe at the Darryl Katz press conference held today at Rexall Place. (Amber Bracken/Sun Media)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

EDMONTON -- While friends and family and colleagues around the NHL urged him to fight back, Kevin Lowe bit his tongue and took the high road for 11 long months.

Every time Brian Burke launched a scathing attack or ridiculed Lowe's ability, and there have been many since Edmonton signed Winkler's Dustin Penner to an offer sheet last August, Lowe would smile and nod and hope the juvenile bleating was over.

Showing more patience than he would've as a player, the Oilers' GM refused to be drawn into a war of words with his bombastic and antagonistic Anaheim counterpart.

Until now.

Following two more Burke pot-shots in the last week, Lowe unloaded both barrels in a blistering counter-attack.

Calling Burke a "moron," in "a pathetic hockey market, "who "destroyed" the Vancouver Canucks and "inherited" a Stanley Cup team in Anaheim, Lowe went Duck hunting with a vengeance.

"The reason he's so mad is that he's done such a poor job with his own team," snapped Lowe. "He overpaid some unrestricted guys last summer (like Todd Bertuzzi) and doesn't have any room to play with. Plus, he's in a pathetic hockey market where they don't have the revenue, so it's tough for him."

Lowe was asked if perhaps Burke is jealous of an Edmonton market with a new billionaire owner and a fan base that sold out every home game except one since the lockout.

"The only thing he's jealous of is that I could play in the NHL and he couldn't," he said. "Let's be honest, he's doing anything he can to get attention because he's operating in a terrible hockey market.

"They can't get hockey in any sports pages, so they have to be as outlandish as possible just so they get noticed."

Lowe's outburst is in response to a pair of Burke volleys. The other day he blamed Lowe for a wild escalation in salaries. Earlier in the week, on the Ducks' website, Burke is quoted as calling the Oilers "dirty bastards," for making the offer sheet to Penner.

"My first instinct was to call the (jerk) up and beat the (heck) out of him," said Lowe. "I had a lot of managers call me up and say that was over the top. He's a moron. He's an underachieving wanna-be in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I won six, if you want to count rings.

"It all boils down to ego. I remember reading a clip after we signed Penner and he was saying 'How dare you do this when I'm in Penticton and it's Brian Burke day.' Who the (heck) cares about Brian Burke day? This is business."

In an earlier dig, Burke accused Lowe of running the Oilers into the ground. Lowe says it's Burke who has a history of running ships aground.

"He left Dave Nonis nothing in Vancouver. Zippo. He destroyed that team. That's his M.O. He goes into Anaheim and inherits an incredible team. Now they don't have much coming (in the system)."

Now Burke is rumoured to be on the move again, taking over in Toronto when his contract in Anaheim runs out after this season.

"That appears to be his M.O. He's like the Wizard of Oz -- you pull the curtains away and there's not much substance."

The crux of Burke's complaints, that offer sheets have increased the cost of players entering their second contract, is true, but Lowe's fine with that. He'd rather pay top dollar while a player's in his prime than wait until he's in his 30s.

"The guys who are signing those big deals at 31 traditionally underperform, "he said. "So you end up paying them the most when they're producing the least. ... Why not pay them at 23, when they're the best players in the game."'

Lowe, clearly, had a lot to get off his chest. About 11 months worth.

"Everybody in the league has been looking at me and saying, why the (heck) are you taking this," he said. "For the longest time I took the high road and hoped it would go away. But I'm sick and tired of it, I think everybody in hockey is."

It'll be interesting if the two cross paths this season.

"Any time," said Lowe.


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