Leafs GM Burke hangs up during Toronto radio interview Staff

3/6/2012 5:41:41 PM

Brian Burke's on-and-off relationship with the media in Toronto continued on Tuesday as the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager took issue with the line of questioning from a Toronto radio host before abruptly hanging up in the midst of an interview.

Questioned about a variety of topics from his off-ice initiatives to the firing of head coach Ron Wilson, it was a question about Burke's own job security was the final straw. When host John Moore of Toronto's News Talk 1010 asked Burke he felt he was 'close to the door,' the NHL executive went on the defensive.

"I wish you'd told me before you asked me to do this interview that that was going to be your last question," Burke said. "A nice little cheap shot before you get off the air."

When Moore persisted and re-asked his question, Burke was short with his response. "No, I don't [worry about getting dismissed]," Burke said just moments before hanging up. "I think it's an ignorant question, and a gutless one, too."

It's not the first incident Burke has had with the hockey media since taking over in Toronto. Earlier this season, he criticized a reporter for getting injury updates from goaltender James Reimer's mother. Other columnists - including print and broadcast media - have on numerous occasions criticized the GM's interactions with the press.

Tuesday's interview started with talk about the 'You Can Play Project' (led by Burke's son Patrick) before switching to discussing on-ice issues - including a critique from hockey commentator Don Cherry about a lack of Ontario-born players on the Maple Leafs.

"I have no interest in escalating an argument with Don Cherry," said Burke. "And I don't know what set him off on that rant, because we actually have had a good relationship, historically."

"Let's look at a few facts. I've run three drafts here, and in those three drafts that I've been here, we led the league with eight Ontario-born players drafted... The notion that we don't like Ontario kids, that's garbage....Somehow in Canada, have we started differentiating between Western Canadians and Ontario boys or Quebec boys? Because I don't draw that distinction."

Burke also fielded questions about Wilson's dismissal by correcting misconceptions about their relationship.

"We've been friends for 40 years," Burke stated. "It's been incorrectly reported repeatedly that we were roommates in college. We were not. It's been reported, repeatedly incorrectly, that I hired Ron. I did not. But we've been friends... it was very difficult to fire him. But I'm also confident it was the right time and the right thing to do."