Brian Burke is gone.
It’s been a week now that Burke hasn’t been generally managing the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I’m still not over the loss. See, I loved Brian Burke. It was a shameful thing, the unrequited, star-crossed passion of a naïve young blogger (well, young in 2008 anyway) for the middle-aged general manager of her arch-rivals, but nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself. Whether he was harassing journalists, fantasizing about beating up Kevin Lowe, making fun of math, or advocating for compassion and social justice, the mere mention of his name was enough to make me stop whatever I was doing, kick up my internet, and swoon a little. In my years writing about hockey, which very nearly overlap with Burke’s tenure in Toronto, no one else provided fodder for both serious debates and snarky jokes with such enthusiasm and regularity. He was amazing, and when the news came down that he’d been fired- not quit, not mutually-parted-ways-with, but fired- well, I didn’t cry, but I thought about it for a second.
When I say I loved him, that doesn’t mean I agreed with him. Not at all. In fact, as concerns the proper management of hockey team, you could not find two people who agreed about fewer things than Brian Burke and myself. Me, I prefer a nefarious man in the front office, and when it comes to the tenets of the CBA, I say circumvent ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out. If I had a franchise of my very own, kittens, it would probably have the least testosterone per capita in the NHL. I would offer-sheet everyone and trade right up until the last second of the last minute of the deadline and hold press conferences just to openly mock any who complained. If Brian Burke and I were rival GMs, we would have barn-fought ten times over and probably one of us would have lost an eye by now.