NHL

Oilers' general manager Lowe rips back at Burke

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TSN.ca Staff
7/4/2008 10:39:09 PM
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After a year of enduring the wrath of Brian Burke, Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe finally fired back at the Anaheim Ducks' executive on Friday.

In a candid interview with Edmonton's Team 1260, Lowe - who stayed relatively quiet each time Burke went after him over the last 12 months - finally let it all out.

"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."

Burke and Lowe have been at odds since the Oilers put forth a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet to Group II restricted free agent Dustin Penner last summer - a contract that the Ducks did not match and sent Penner to Edmonton.

At the time, Burke explained he had no problem with a team putting an offer sheet forward, but the money involved was the issue. Lowe responded in kind on Friday, saying the standard for such contracts was set long before the Penner signing.

"I mean, if he wants to debate what our offer sheet did to them or to the salaries, anytime," he explained to Team 1260. "The reality is, Rick Nash's contract a number of years ago, (Patrice) Bergeron's and (Ilya) Kovalchuk's; that sets the standard - that's been going on for decades. I'm sick and tired of it. I know everybody in hockey is. I know our peers are like, 'Well, that's Burkie.' This guy is an absolute media junkie and I guess he's achieving what he wants because he gets his name in the headlines. But the reality is, I hate the fact that my name is linked to his. He's an underachieving wanna-be in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings? Who cares, it's just a little pathetic that he carries on."

The latest chapter in the feud came on Wednesday, after the Ducks signed restricted free agent forward Corey Perry to a five-year extension worth $26.63 million. Burke had some choice words about the new salary climate in the NHL after this week's high-profile signings, and blamed Lowe for eliminating the 'second contract' from team-player negotiations.

The long-standing rivalry between Lowe and Burke has also brought up whispers of a conspiracy theory that the two men are hamming it up for added exposure for the league.

"I remember (L.A. Kings general manager) Dean Lombardi last summer saying to me, 'You guys are (just) putting this on, you're not really feeling this way. The NHL likes this stuff, they want to create a little angst in the media and stuff and get some headlines?'" recalled Lowe.

"I said, 'No Dean, this is real.' He was shocked that this was going on but Burkie loves the limelight. He's all bluff and loud and Mac T (head coach Craig MacTavish) said it best - he's like the Wizard of Oz, you pull the curtains away and there's not much substance."  

Burke, who joined the Ducks as general manager in 2005, helped build a championship contender in Anaheim that eventually won the Stanley Cup in 2007. That achievement didn't score too high with Lowe, who was quick to point out the other ups and downs of his time with the Ducks, along with the shortcomings of Burke's former team, the Vancouver Canucks.

"Here's a fact - he left (former Canucks GM) Dave Nonis nothing in Vancouver," he explained. "Nothing. He destroyed that team. If it wasn't for Nonis' incredible deals - to con Mike Keenan to get (Roberto) Luongo in Vancouver - that team was taking a nose dive two years ago."

"I mean, that's his M.O., but no one says anything. He goes into Anaheim and he inherits an incredible team. He gets Chris Pronger - not because of our relationship, it just so happened we had five or six teams and targeted their assets. We had Florida, Anaheim, Philadelphia, San Jose and Los Angeles. He just happened to throw enough assets our way to get the player. Kudos to him. He recognizes that at the end of the day, you throw enough assets, you get the best player and you get a good deal. You never know in this business if you're going to win at the end of the day. He could have just decimated the franchise forever. I'll tell you this, they have not much coming. Bobby Ryan has been a questionable pick at No. 2 (overall in 2005), and up until this draft, they tried to move down and did a nice job of trying to replenish their depth chart. They had nothing coming, and that appears to be his M.O."

Lowe even left an intriguing cliffhanger for the radio station's listeners.

"Don't even ask me about Scott Niedermayer, I've already lowered myself in terms of (talking about) how they acquired him," he said. "That's a story for another day, but they were able to bring Niedermayer and Pronger in and they won a Stanley Cup."

In closing, Lowe went so far as to send out a tongue-in-cheek message to his front office nemesis.

"Anaheim has decent players - Corey Perry is a hell of a player," he said. "What I really want to say about his bickering about parity and the salary cap is if you're unhappy about them, then trade him (Perry) our way, we'll be glad to have him."

Kevin Lowe (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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