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Burke: Drop the World Championship in Olympic years

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TSN.ca Staff
5/22/2010 2:18:25 PM
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If it was up to Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, there would be no World Hockey Championship in Olympic years.

"It's too much hockey," said Burke. "It's too much for our players and I don't think it has the lustre that the tournament normally has because everyone was focused on Vancouver. NHL teams don't get anything out of this. The players don't get paid."

Burke was the general manager of the American entry that struggled in Germany and barely avoided relegation. Mark Messier was the general manager of Team Canada, which lost to the powerful Russians in the quarterfinals. However, neither team had rosters close to resembling those that squared off in the gold medal game at the Olympics in February.

To make matters worse for Burke, he was steamed to read a controversial article written by the communications director of the International Ice Hockey Federation and posted on the IIHF website, criticizing star players like Sidney Crosby for turning down invitations to play.

The article has since been removed and IIHF president René Fasel has apologized to Crosby's agent but Burke is still bothered by the stance taken by someone on the IIHF payroll.

"I was infuriated by the story because the guy who wrote it is on the staff of the IIHF but I didn't think it came off like that," said Burke. "They tried to pass it off as a news story. It would be different if (a reporter) decided to do an editorial that more players should answer the bell and go play in the World Championship. You're entitled to your opinion."

"But when it's someone on the IIHF staff, which has a big financial interest, I think that is really inappropriate."

While Burke admits he's not privy to the decisions that are made within the IIHF, he has his own theory as to why it is still played in Olympic years.

"I think it's based on greed," said Burke. "I think they have a television contract which I've heard is over $20 million and that's why they play it. I say drop it or give us a good reason why (we should play it)."

Burke feels he's not alone in his thoughts on the future of the World Hockey Championship. With players facing the possibility of getting hurt while not playing for their NHL teams, he feels every general manager would side with him on this issue.

"If you ask 30 GMs, they would tell you this is a tournament that should be played every other year. Not only eliminate the Olympic year but play it every other year," said Burke. "The minimum solution for me would be to drop it in Olympic years. I'd like someone from the IIHF to explain to me why we do instead of dinging our players for not going."

Brian Burke (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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