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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Brian Burke on Sportstalk

CKNW radio in Vancouver has a great nightly sports talk-show, aptly titled 'Sportstalk' with respected Vancouver media man and host Dan Russell. The show has a weekly feature called 'It's your quarter' with guest commentator Brian Burke. He may have an abrasive personality, but he's a treat to listen to.

Topics on the weekly feature range from the lockout to Burke's past experiences as the GM of the Vancouver Canucks. One thing is always constant, however - NHL hockey is always in the spotlight.

When asked if the NHLPA's claims that the NHL only intends to extinguish the NHLPA and end up in front of a labour judge have any merrit, Burke had this to say:

"No one can disagree with the (NHLPA) without someone from the Player's Association saying that they are out to bust the union...The NHL case for implementation is a good one, however, I haven't heard anyone talk about it and I don't think I'm going to."

Basically, Burke's sentiments were that it's a ridiculous notion that all the NHL is out to do is crush the NHLPA. The owners realize that the current crop of NHL players are the best in the world and they have little desire to simply toss them to the side. Simply, the NHL needs the coveted 'linkage' between salaries and revenues, and they will get it.

Burke goes on to say about the solidarity of the owners:

"(From the NHL's standpoint) the 24% rollback - everyone saw through that immediately...There is going to be no deal without linkage. Bettman is not a raving lunatic leading the masses, he's linked arm in arm with them (owners)...there are some owners who want a much stiffer deal than Gary has offered."

Interesting indeed. I figured that it was obvious that the owners were unwaivering and much more united this time around. But having it confirmed such as it was really drives the reality of their stance home. The conversation continued from there and there was some focus on the NHL's stance:

"There are some hard feelings towards the union because the NHLPA were given an opportunity to help fix the system two years ago - the owners said to the players that they can keep everything that they had up to this point, but the system must be fixed - and the NHLPA simply laughed at them. This is a union that has not allowed any type of mutual co-operation to develop. The players are employees, and that somehow gets lost in the mix here. They are employees and no (future) deal is ever going to be possible without linkage (to their salaries)."

As I said before, Burke may be abrasive and he has just a smidge of a bias to the owners side, nonetheless, when he speaks, most listen. His comments are very intelligent and well articulated and I only wish that he was on every night (although I suppose that would ruin much of the excitement).

On a final note, Burke basically conveyed that the season is all but officially down the drain. That's not going to take anyone I know by surprise - this season was probably unofficially lost about two or three years ago. Sigh.

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