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Burke discusses Avery situation on NHL Live

Wednesday, 12.03.2008 / 4:22 PM / News

NHL.com

Toronto's new president and general manager, Brian Burke, was a guest on the NHL Live on XM radio show Wednesday. There were plenty of topics to discuss. Here's what Burke had to say related to Sean Avery and the hearing scheduled with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at noon Thursday in New York:

His role as Vancouver GM when Todd Bertuzzi was suspended:
"When I had the Todd Bertuzzi situation with Steve Moore, I'd read these GMs comments, 'they have to do this and they have to do that.' The piling on that happens when a team gets into a jam like that is really none of my business. I was going to use a non-family term. It's none of my business."

Suspension is not surprising:
"I will say this, as a generic overview, this type of commentary has never been acceptable in our League and I'm not surprised Sean Avery was suspended and I don't think it should be acceptable. I found it personally offensive and since he was immediately suspended doesn't surprise me one bit and I'll be surprised if they don't take this very seriously at the League level and that will be reflected in what happened.

Speculation about length of any suspension: As far as guys weighing in on this stuff, 'I think this guy should get this many games.' I can't stand that. When I worked for the League I wondered why these guys wouldn't keep their mouths shut. Then as a GM unless my guys were involved and I see a League executive say, 'they are really going to throw the book at this guy' it's none of my business."

'I can change this guy' rarely succeeds: "I put a very large premium on character and team-type approach and coachability. We try not to have guys who are interested in the side show. I think teams that bring a guy on because they are mesmerized by his talent and think, 'I can change this guy' in this history of sports it's seldom worked out.

"You sign Terrell Owens and they you say, 'geez, he's disruptive.'  How could you not know that? It's like the lady who finds a snake on the path brings it into her house warms it up and then it bites her. And she says, 'what are you doing?' And the snake says, 'you knew I was a poisonous snake before you brought me in the house.' Wake up. You're not going to change the spots on a leopard. I'm guilty of this too, mind you I'm not throwing a stone at Brett Hull or Les Jackson.

"We did it when we signed Fedor Fedorov [during Burke's Vancouver tenure]. He'd been drafted by Tampa and we had a pretty good group here and this guy will work out if we put him in the right situation, but it didn't work out. Again I'm not throwing a rock here. I'm not sure you can change the spots on a leopard. You take these guys and you get mesmerized by their skill. "You look at the package and say, 'holy, good God, he can skate, he can shoot, he's big.' Or Terrell Owens, he can run, he can catch, he's an amazing physical specimen and we've got a good group in this room we'll turn his head a little bit and we'll get him to perform. The only guy I've seen it work with in recent memory is Randy Moss."
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