Burke: Negativity over Stanley Cup playoffs is misplaced Staff

4/18/2012 2:01:45 PM

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke does not agree with the negativity directed towards the suspensions and violence that have taken up the headlines during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Burke told USA Today's Kevin Allen on Wednesday that the media's focus on the incidents that have happened on the ice are taking away from the 'third-round intensity' and drama of the first-round of the postseason.

"This is like people complaining about the rain at Woodstock," Burke told USA Today. "Yes, there was lots of mud, but it was the greatest music gathering in history."

NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has handed out eight suspensions during the first seven days of postseason games. Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres, who awaits a hearing with Shanahan on Friday after his hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa, was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday.

"I hope we continue to nail the people who are crossing the line," Burke told USA Today. "But this is a small number of incidents, and it's unfortunate that non-hockey media is focusing on that. But what I see is great hockey. It's awesome."

The postseason has also been marked by nasty play in almost every series. Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers, Senators defenceman Matt Carkner, Pittsburgh's James Neal and Arron Asham, Washington Capitals star centre Nicklas Backstrom, Chicago Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw and Byron Bitz of the Vancouver Canucks have all been handed suspensions since the playoffs started last Wednesday.

Burke pointed out that parity and the natural rivalries between teams is a factor to the increase of bad behaviour.

"Nine times of 10 when players cross the line, it's emotional," Burke explained to USA Today. "It's not cognitive. (Washington's Nicklas) Backstrom didn't say the other night, I'm going to go in and cross-check this guy. Aaron Asham didn't say to himself. I'm going to cross-check Brayden Schenn in the throat. It's adrenaline. It's reaction."

Burke also has no issue with the work Shanahan has done assessing incidents and handing out his decisions. "You can't make people happy, so just do the job," Burke said. "And I think Brendan is doing that. It's impossible for fans to be rationale at this time of year. It's impossible for Detroit fans not to be outraged when Shea Weber wasn't suspended (for slamming Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass). But I don't think he should have been."

Files from USA Today were used for this report.