Pic via the Globe and Mail

The Brian Burke videos at the bottom of this post are in the must-watch category. One explains his hard-line stance on anti-bullying, and the other is a fascinating story about how his son Brendan helped mend his relationship with Edmonton Oilers ex-GM and current president Kevin Lowe, which (literally) almost came to blows after the Dustin Penner offer sheet fiasco.


I got to know Brian Burke’s late son Brendan after I wrote this column on ending gay slurs in hockey in 2009, and he reached out to express his gratitude. I asked if I could tell his story – the son of Brian Burke was openly gay and working in hockey – and he was happy to get that out there, on one condition: the approval of Miami University’s head coach Enrico Blasi (he was the team’s student-manager), and that of his dad.

He got both.

John Buccigross of ESPN ended up telling his tremendous story (if you’re gonna run with a big story like this – and it was going to be big – you might as well get as many eyes on it as possible), and that’s when we really got to know what kind of man Brian Burke is.

Despite what you may think about how he occasionally comes off (a bit gruff, maybe?), we learned that he’s the kind of man that backs up his words. He said he’d stand by his son with an axe. He marches in Toronto’s gay pride parade. And now, he’s stepped up to help fight bullying.

Burke gave theScore’s Sophia Jurksztowicz a lengthy interview on the work he’s doing, and as I mentioned, you aren’t gonna wanna miss the teasers below – he’s incredibly candid. He discusses how Brendan helped mend his relationship with Kevin Lowe, which was at one point a full-blown disaster (including – and how crazy is this – they were going to rent a barn in Lake Placid and have an ACTUAL fist fight before Gary Bettman found out, called and intervened).

All in all, Burke is just a fascinating man with a good heart. The full interview will be shared via theScore and theScore.com next week. Among the topics discussed:

- His work to help stop bullying.
- How his son Brendan changed his life.
- The details of his typical gameday experience (rightdown to his 5-shot long espresso order at Starbucks).
- How he clearly defines his role vs Ron Wilson’s.
-  Who he was rooting for in last season’sStanley Cup finals.



Follow Justin Bourne on Twitter here.

Comments (19)

  1. Lowe v. Burke @ Lake Placid, almost …

    Burke’s statement when Brendan came out was kickass: “I wish this burden would fall on someone else’s shoulders, not Brendan’s. Pioneers are often misunderstood and mistrusted. But since he wishes to blaze this trail, I stand beside him with an axe!”

    • That some stuff you’d think a President’s speech writer wrote (unlike this sentence). I mean, amazingly moving.

  2. Amazing stuff. Again. Great work.

  3. Brian Burke remains our favorite hockey dad

  4. LOVE. Brian. Burke.

  5. Theres nothing wrong with 2 willing combatants settling things with a fistfight. (these ARE hockey people ya know). It is completely legal in my state (TN) and has the legal name of ‘mutual combat’.
    But I can understand how it cant be for public information for the league.

    If you ever read the “getting to know” articles on the Hockey News over the years, they usually ask what the player thinks is most important in people. Invariably the answer is honest/integrety/ man of his word. Brian Burke is that man.

  6. So instead of Lowe, maybe Brian Burke could have a fistfight with Garth Snow or Charles Wang? You know, for the good of hockey. Please.

  7. Knowing the Islanders Snow or Wang would first go the wrong rink…then they’d show up with only 1 boxing glove but three towels to throw in.

  8. Burke got Jim Mullin of CKNW radio in Vancouver fired this year for no good reason. He still has some bully in him.

  9. I f-ing love Brian Burke, he’s a great GM but he’s also the kind of guy you should listen to because he’s smart, opinionated, and honest. You might not always agree with him but he doesn’t mince words and he doesn’t shy away from making his opinions clear. Of course, people being what they are, he’s earned the reputation from some as an ego-maniac that loves the sound of his own voice (god forbid you offer opinions on things when people regularly surround you with microphones and ask you for your opinions). He’s a perfect example of why people often mince their words and shy away from taking a stand: when you do, you become a target for those who disagree, or for those who just like to make people targets. Burke has always been one of my favourite people in the NHL and I’m glad there are people out there who give him credit for being as awesome as he is. Putting on the Leafs jersey and walking in the pride parade? I mean, being in the parade is cool and all, but putting on the Leafs jersey takes it to another level that a guy like Burke is accutely aware of. And he ain’t a half-bad GM either. You’re right though Zeb, a read through Burke’s bio will touch on some incidents that suggest he can be a pitbull.

  10. too bad they didn’t go at it. Lowe would kick his @$$ big time.

  11. where is the full article or video?

  12. He is a class act all the way! When speaking with TSN radio 1050 of his joining the social media universe, Brian Burke was asked by James Cybulski, why he doesn’t follow anyone on Twitter? His answer…”you have to be interested in someone else’s opinion, before you follow them” Classic!!!

  13. Im not a big fan of Burke in a professional sense (although Im an Oilers fan so I may be biased), but the man deserves a lot of props outside the GM office. Its not easy to take a hard stance and be a spokesperson on these controversial issues, but he is a class act, says and does all the right things. We need more men like him to speak up and take action.

  14. the poster boy for prozac

  15. Thank you everyone for a great day of factual information sharing… need to tweet this post..

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