Burke plotted to fight Lowe

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke admitted he once planned a fist fight in 2007, while he was...

Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke admitted he once planned a fist fight in 2007, while he was in charge of the Ducks, with then-Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe over an offer sheet made to forward Dustin Penner. (QMI Agency file photos)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:01 AM ET

EDMONTON - Kevin Lowe swears he had no idea Brian Burke was planning the Lake Placid Barn Burner.

“I never did get the invitation,” said Lowe.

The Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations insists the revelation from the Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Friday of planning to rent a barn for a fist fight between the two over Lowe signing Dustin Penner was a revelation.

“It’s news to me,” Lowe told your correspondent Friday.

Unlike the actual punch-up between Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca that took place on stage at an alumni function at the Grey Cup in Vancouver one week ago, this one never made it to the barn door.

But it would have been an even more bizarre bit of business.

It had hockey fans debating who would win the fight, whether or not Burke would be a bleeder, if Lowe’s famed pain threshold would be a factor and what might be a good undercard?

Some of the suggestions: Semenko-Ali II, Kapp-Mosca II, Craig MacTavish vs Harvey The Hound ...

And how would you promote it?

Sun boxing writer Murray Greig, who gained national notoriety for coming up with The Vanilla Thrilla for the 1986 Canadian heavyweight title bout between Willie deWit and Ken Lakusta (I can still hear him explaining it in a TV interview: “Two white guys — get it?”), offered a couple of monikers for Burke vs. Lowe: Bustin’ for Dustin and All-out GMicide.

It’s a fun story now, but obviously not back then.

Apparently it took wife Jennifer, late son Brendan and even NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to talk Burke out of renting the barn for the bout.

It all came out Friday in an interview with The Score’s Sophia Jurksztowicz, in which Burke confessed his plan to trade punches with Lowe.

“It got a point where Kevin challenged me to a fight on a radio interview,” Burke told Jurksztowicz of an interview with Bob Stauffer on the Team 1260.

“I’m, like, ‘That’s not really how you challenge a guy to a fight.’ If you want to challenge a guy to a fight, you pick a place and a time and you show up.

“So I called Glen Sather and I said, ‘Look, this guy went on the radio and challenged me to a fight.’ I said, ‘I’m going to be at Lake Placid at the U.S. junior camp.’ I gave him three dates. I told him I’d rent a barn and I’d pick the address and the time and I’d fight Kevin Lowe,” Burke added of talking to Lowe’s former coach and mentor from the Oilers dynasty.

Asked if he was serious, Burke said hell, yes.

“Dead serious. It got to the point where Gary Bettman called me and said, ‘I hear you guys are thinking about having a fight and if you do I’m going to suspend you both indefinitely.’

“That’s how crazy it got between me and Kevin.

“He’s as stubborn as I am. And there’s no doubt in my mind if we had bumped into each other right about then, we would have fought. No question. He’s not afraid of me. We would have fought for sure.

“Anyway, my wife overhears this, I think I’m in the privacy of my backyard in California and my wife says, ‘You idiot. You’re going to fight this guy? Are you crazy? You’re a general manager.’ So it never came to anything, never came close to it.”

Burke told The Score that his son overheard him on the phone referring to Lowe as a “no good bastard.” Afterward, Brendan asked his dad, “How can you carry a grudge like that?”

“It’s easy. I’m Irish. We can carry (one) for centuries,” Burke responded.

“You guys used to be friends and I think you should mend the fence,” was Brendan’s response.

After his son died in a car accident, Burke recalled what his son had told him about Lowe.

“After the accident, one of the first people to call was Steve Tambellini and I said, ‘Steve, I’ve got to mend the fence with Kevin.’ “

Lowe remembers back to taking a lot of verbal abuse from Burke when he finally popped his top.

“I’d had enough. The league finally had enough and talked to us after that.”

But Lowe swears Bettman never mentioned the proposed bout in a Lake Placid barn at any point since.

“I’d never heard about setting up any scrap.

“That’s probably the way it should have been settled in the first place,” laughed Lowe.


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