Last night I had the privilege of watching Brian Burke’s interview with James Duthie of TSN and it was anything but a letdown. When asked about his relationship with Kevin Lowe after the summer offer sheet he gave to Dustin Penner, Burke responded, “If I had run my team into the sewer like that I wouldn’t throw a grenade at the other 29 teams and my own indirectly.” All I can say about that comment is WOW. Burke even went on to say that he wouldn’t speak with Kevin Lowe even if he coveted one of his players in a trade; rather, he would have his assistant GM Bob Murray make that call. I am still wondering if the best part of the interview was Burke going off like that or James Duthie’s “okay” response as you could see the anchor was in shock by what had just been said. Either way, it makes for good television.
I know Burke gets his fair share of criticism but, to be honest, I’m still not sure why. He does a tremendous job of building teams and fan bases as Eric Duhatschek points out in the Globe and Mail. Additionally, he gives his frank opinion on issues. In my mind that is a breath of fresh air. In this particular interview, Duthie asked Burke a question and regardless of your opinion on his response, you can’t argue with the fact that he was being honest. Straight shooters are more rare in the game today than they were, say, twenty years ago and in my humble opinion, the NHL needs more personalities like Brian Burke.
On to the morning papers:
- Alexei Kovalev is making an effort to help his young teammates out this season writes Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette. As far as predictions go, Hickey believes the Habs will finish in the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and just squeak into the playoffs.
- Radek Bonk has impressed his new coach Barry Trotz with his poise both offensively and defensively. Meanwhile, Preds‘ forward Martin Gelinas will have stitches removed from his hand before the team’s opener on Thursday.
- Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger has a must-read human interest piece on Brent Sutter this morning. In other Sutter news, the new Devils’ coach will wait to make a decision on team captain and open the season with three alternate captains. It is interesting to note that neither John Madden nor Jay Pandolfo were named alternates.
- Larry Brooks of the NY Post is unimpressed with Tom Renney’s plan to have Scott Gomez on the Rangers’ second powerplay unit. It appears Chris Drury will get every opportunity to prove he can mesh with Jaromir Jagr to stick on the team’s number one line.
- At Islanders’ camp, Jeff Tambellini was demoted to Bridgeport of the AHL on Tuesday, however, a decision has not yet been made on the future of Bryan Berard.
- Due to their playoff success a season ago, the Senators are now a team with a target on their backs writes Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. Chris Phillips is not buying the argument that this may be the Sens’ last chance to compete for the Cup.
- Hugh Adami of the Ottawa Citizen suggests that Bryan Murray make Jason Spezza his first priority ahead of signing Dany Heatley.
- You can count Mike Richards as one player who is happy John Stevens is behind the Flyers‘ bench this season instead of Ken Hitchcock.
- Phil Sheridan of the Philadelpia Inquirer wonders if expectations are too high for the Flyers heading into the season.
- Heading into Thursday’s opener against the Blues, Coyotes’ coach Wayne Gretzky has finalized his team’s lines. After looking at these lines, you can’t help but think it is going to be a long season in the desert.
- David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News provides readers with the line combinations at Sharks’ practice on Tuesday.
- For Jordan Staal, adjusting to left wing is not as hard when your linemates are Sidney Crosby and Petr Sykora.
- The Blues’ roster is so young that Doug Weight jokes he may have to go shopping for a new wardrobe to keep up with his new, hip, well-dressed teammates.
- John Tortorella never questions Vaclav Prospal’s effort and expects a big year out of the winger. Tortorella also announced his starting goalteder for Thursday’s opener will be Johan Holmqvist.
- It is time for the Leafs to start playing games that count writes Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star. While Damien Cox of the Star believes the time has come for Mats Sundin to pass the torch on to a teammate. Sundin is fully aware he is nearing the end of his career writes Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun. (Writer’s note: There was a brilliant quote by Jason Blake in Paul Hunter’s piece this morning. “All three of us have different characteristics. Mats is big and strong. Nik is big and strong. I’m small and weak. Hopefully things will work out.” Ummmm, I’m not sure, but I think big and strong and big and strong would be the SAME characteristics!!!)
- Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post examines how the CBA has worked two years after the inception of the salary cap.
- Roberto Luongo believes he is a better goalie than he was last season writes Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province. (Writer’s note: Is that even possible?)
- Modest Mike Modano is closing in on becoming the all-time leading U.S. born scorer in NHL history writes Kevin Allen of USA Today.
- As Illegal Curve told you last night, Bobby Holik is the newest captain of the Atlanta Thrashers.
- Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Shawn Thornton were all excited to see cut-down day go by without their names being included writes Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe. Here are the Bruins’ line combinations heading into the season.
- The Sabres will use a monthly captain rotation this season with Jochen Hecht sporting the C to begin the season.
- Steve Macfarlane of the Calgary Sun has a Q & A with new coach Mike Keenan. Keenan is the key to the team’s fortunes this season writes Eric Francis of the Sun.
- Bruce Dowbiggen of the Calgary Herald provides readers with a preview of the Flames this season IF readers are ready for it.
- The Ducks are back from Europe and ready to renew their rivalry with the Wings.
- Luke Decock of the News Observer does a good job of capturing the optimism that surrounds the Canes heading into 2007/08. (Writer’s note: The Canes won’t be televising the team’s first game. However, fear not Carolina fans, the league is working to get the Montreal feed on the Center Ice package so Canes fans can get the game. Nothing like a sound marketing strategy. I mean there has to be about two people with Center Ice in Carolina and I’m betting they probably don’t speak French.)
- Injuries are no longer an issue for the Blackhawks heading into the season opener writes Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.
- As Adrian Date of the Denver Post tells us, Joel Quenville has strayed away from the team’s successful line combinations from a season ago by flip-flopping Milan Hejduk and Andrew Brunette. Meanwhile, Terry Frei of the Post has a great piece on the adjustment to life in the Rockies for Ryan Smyth and his family.
- The Blue Jackets will start the season with a platoon in net writes Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. It looks like Mike Peca may not be ready for the season opener due to back spasms.
- Dave Tippett has become better at realizing when he needs to give his mind a rest from thinking about hockey; Mike Heika has the story in the Dallas Morning News.
- Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press provides readers with a few reasons why the Wings won’t win the Cup this season. However, it is clear her article was just for argument’s sake because in the Free Press prediction column, St. James has the Wings taking home Lord Stanley’s Cup.
- New goalie Tomas Vokoun is the key to the Panthers’ fortunes this season.
- Ladislav Smid was pushed to the AHL by the increased crop of talent that was in the big camp this season writes Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal.
- Apparently Craig MacTavish has quite a simple formula for picking the team’s next captain.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.