Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Burke vs. Lowe: the true winner is the audience

When your GM is compared to Manny, you might be in for a long lame duck year

My best laugh of the night did not come from "Trailer Park Boys" (that show, along with hockey, funny pronunciation and maple syrup prove that Canada deserves a little respect). Instead, it came from Kevin Lowe's slap-fight response to Brian Burke dropping a-bomb quotes for a full year:
"Where do I begin?," started Lowe. "He's a moron, first of all. Secondly, he really believes that any news for the NHL is good news. Thirdly, he loves the limelight and I don't think anyone in hockey will dispute that. Lastly, he's in a pathetic hockey market where they can't get on any page of the newspaper let alone the front page of the sports, so any of this stuff carries on."

I know our peers are like, 'Well, that's Burkie.'

-TSN
Reading that made me think of Chuck Klosterman's great bit about "archrival versus nemesis." In the beginning of the feud, when "Burkie" had smoke coming out of his ears, people mentioned that the two were considered friends. But maybe they were just nemeses according to Klosterman's definition: everyone figured they were good buddies, but they secretly hated each other.

Either way, this feud is pretty hilarious. "Burkie being Burkie."

(Some people in Toronto are probably squirming right now)

12 comments:

cynical joe said...

I love how Lowe has to resort to the 'I won six cups, and he's only got one, but whatever' trope. I can't wait for Burkie to drop the 'Harvard Law grad' on KLowe in return. Maybe they actually should measure their dicks, that'll solve it, right?

RudyKelly said...

Haha, that's awesome. Burke's mostly right in this one, but any time we can get two NHL GM arguing like a couple of queens is hilarious. These are the quotes that Lowe is responding to, from the LA Times:

"They're all being re-signed at inflated prices," Burke said. "Everything I said a year ago has come true. Every single word.

"Most [general] managers don't like starting fights with any other managers. . . . Thanks to the Edmonton Oilers, the second contract [for players] has disappeared.

"You go right now from entry-level to what used to be the third contract, thanks to two offer sheets from Kevin Lowe."


Sounds pretty spot-on, although nobody put a gun to anyone's head and made them sign their restricted free agents to ridiculous contracts. It was the GM's own irrational fear of offer sheets that led them to this point.

Oh, and I could be wrong, but didn't Burke graduate from Harvard with an undergraduate degree in law, not a degree from Harvard Law School? I'm not going to look it up because I don't care, but I remember reading that.

Doogie2K said...

Sounds pretty spot-on

...until you realize it's total fucking bullshit. I think you can thank Doug MacLean (Rick Nash), Don Waddell (Ilja Kovalchuk), and Mike O'Connell (Patrice Bergeron) for that before Lowe.

Earl Sleek said...

I think you can thank Doug MacLean (Rick Nash), Don Waddell (Ilja Kovalchuk), and Mike O'Connell (Patrice Bergeron) for that before Lowe.

Aw, c'mon, Doogie. You don't think there's a difference between the caliber of player and pedigree of Dustin Penner from the other guys on this list?

I don't think that the issue is how much top players need to be locked up for (which is why I don't think it applies as directly to Perry's deal), but rather the mid-range talents. The salary for the Fingers and the Streits and the Ryders has escalated quickly, and like it or not, Lowe's Penner-poaching had a lot to do with that.

Also, as much as both of these guys are portrayed as media whiners, it should be pointed out that the media seemingly can't wait for their next potshot in this verbal war. I blame TSN for this escalation more than I blame Lowe or Burke themselves.

Mike in OC said...

The elimination is more because of the free agency change from 31 to 25 in the new CBA that everyone of them agreed to. If you dont get an offer sheet, your young star and you go to arbitration. Even if you come out of arbitration on top that player always ends up gone either by trade or FA. You as a GM are screwed either way.

Your best bet is to give them the early raise if you want to retain them in the long term.

jamestobrien said...

Hey, give Doogie credit for standing up for his GM. Even if Lowe seems kind of dopey.

Sleek's right, though. The mid-level mania is basically returning the NHL to pre-lockout stupidity in the snap of a finger.

"Cost certainty." Right.

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, and another thing: cup rings.

Really, Lowe? So I suppose the best suggestion is just find the dude with the most cup rings (Henri Richard?) and he ought to inherently know how much each young player should earn under a salary cap, right?

It's a lame trump card to be throwing out there, especially considering Burke played way fewer years on the Gretzky Cup Ring Express.

Doogie2K said...

Aw, c'mon, Doogie. You don't think there's a difference between the caliber of player and pedigree of Dustin Penner from the other guys on this list?

I sure do. I also recall Burke's comments being specifically about the second contract, and the bottom line is, the "second contract" (i.e. <$2M for a young guy) was on its way out anyway, and that the bigger names were just the first wave; I think that was inevitable with the lower UFA age. I highly doubt that second-tier youngsters like Penner would really have been cheap for much longer, regardless of what Lowe did.

And yes, the Cup ring argument was silly -- in their current jobs, it's 1-0 Burke -- but it was also funny. And Funny > Logic, in life as in art.

Sleek's right, though. The mid-level mania is basically returning the NHL to pre-lockout stupidity in the snap of a finger.


"Cost certainty." Right.


Among UFAs, anyway, that's pure market forces. Desperation + competition = stupid. "Cost certainty" is still a perfectly valid concept; it's a question of how you distribute those costs and how some (alright, most) GMs are distributing them is, well, stupid.

mc79hockey said...

Sleek's right, though. The mid-level mania is basically returning the NHL to pre-lockout stupidity in the snap of a finger.

Does everyone in California have some sort of problem caused by an overload of Vitamin D that causes them to be unable to appreciate the effect of linkage? In ten words: If one group of players gets more, another gets less.

It's not inflationary, it moves the money around. It's not taking the league back to before the lockout because it's pulling money away from the older players to give to the younger ones.

Kevin Lowe seems to think that this is an objectively good thing - I'm pretty sure that's wrong and I don't even think that this is subjectively all that good for the Oilers. That said, Burke's bitching is purely because Bryan Murray left him a nice pile of young talent and Kevin Lowe cost him a bunch of money. It's neither right, nor wrong, it's just bad for Brian Burke and he's spent the past year trying to pretend that it's bad for everyone.

RudyKelly said...

Does everyone in California have some sort of problem caused by an overload of Vitamin D that causes them to be unable to appreciate the effect of linkage?

Yes.

Earl Sleek said...

In ten words, if one group of players gets more, another gets less.

I think we're OK on this concept, it is purely a distribution of spending that's at issue, and on the whole I'm on board with your statements, mc. And yes, it is a distribution swing that has taken a punch at Burke's gameplan (and soon Lowe's as well).

Essentially, less money is going towards "proven results" and more money is going towards "potential", just to simplify. Was it inevitable? Probably. Is it better for the league? Doesn't matter. Still, was it significant that Lowe accelerated that trend by removing the "taboo" from the RFA offer sheet? Undoubtedly. It's a fast-adjusting market, and plenty of people compare well against Dustin Penner.

So we'll see a differing strategy emerge, I'd guess, possibly one where kids are hardly exposed to the league at all. Probably if kids stick to the "Bobby Ryan" plan their second contracts become affordable, and lower-spending markets like SoCal can compete with that edge. Dustin Penner's contract is not the end of the world, certainly, it's more just a step in the evolution of a new one.

Still, saying all that, I'm not against Burke's statements. Even if it is TSN's blood-feud of the month, I think he is being largely frank about the evolving salary landscape, and as a fan, I'd rather have that than radio silence or company line (Gary says things are great). If you can take Burke's "blowhard" factor out of the equation, I do appreciate Burke's straightforwardness; it's nice to have a glimpse of GM perception.

jamestobrien said...

Well, I'm actually in Texas...but I guess it's tomato-"tomahhhto" thing, eh? Either way it's sunnier than Mrs. Pronger-repelling Edmonton.

When I made the "cost certainty" comment, I meant to direct it merely at the not surprising but still mind boggling moves made in free agency this summer.

Overall, I think both Burke and Lowe bumped their reps down a notch (but definitely entertained us in doing so).