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article imageOp-Ed: The inspiration of Toronto Maple Leafs' Brian Burke

By Eric Warren     Mar 17, 2010 in Sports
When I first heard Brian Burke was coming to Toronto as general manager, I was less than enthused about the whole thing. He had won a Stanley Cup, but, what had he done lately?
Burke has been a GM in the NHL since the 1992/93 season and is known in the hockey world as a no nonsense kind of guy.
When I first heard he was coming to Toronto, I must admit, I wasn't overly enthused. Brian Burke had won a Cup; OK, lots of GM's have won a cup. He was also credited with re-building a floundering Vancouver Canucks franchise, not bad, but it's been done.
No, the thing that had been stuck in my mind when I heard that he was coming to Toronto, was this ongoing public feud with Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe. I thought it was childish, and, that Brian Burke may be little more than a long winded buffoon.
I've changed my mind.
Brian Burke has since cemented his place among one of the best GMs this town has ever seen. In what has not yet been his first full season as the Toronto Maple Leafs boss, he has managed to completely turn the entire franchise inside out. Taking an aging and essentially mediocre team riddled with bad contracts and under achieving players, and turned it into the youngest team in the league.
There is now not only hope in Leafs land for the future, there is also over thirteen million dollars in cap space.
While Brian was imparting his own brand of truculence, on the world of hockey, his personal life, was anything but quiet.
It surprised most of us to learn that not only was one of Burke's six children, 21-year-old Brandon, gay. To add to that, Brian Burke, Mr Macho..... Mr Truculent, wasted no time in announcing that he was not only his son's biggest supporter, but was also in fact his biggest admirer.
"I had a million good reasons to love and admire Brendan. This news didn't alter any of them.
I would prefer Brendan hadn't decided to discuss this issue in this very public manner. There will be a great deal of reaction, and I fear a large portion will be negative. But this takes guts, and I admire Brendan greatly, and happily march arm in arm with him on this."
Less than three months later, almost on the eve of the Olympic Games in his old stomping grounds of Vancouver, Brian Burke and the rest of the hockey world were absolutely shocked to learn of Brendan's death.
Brendan Burke, who was on his way back from visiting MSU to his own campus ( Miami University in Ohio ), when the accident occurred.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman described Brendan as "a young man of courage and character. Words simply cannot express our sorrow over his loss."
In the face of the passing of his son, Brian Burke and Team USA went on to win a Silver Medal at the Winter Olympics.
From the beginning of the season, whether facing tampering charges, revitalizing an almost dead franchise, supporting his son, and mourning his subsequent death, Brian Burke has stood strong.
He has been the kind of leader that has been missing from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
He has been, in short, an inspiration.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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