Brian Burke: Outrage over NHL's suspensions overblown

The Globe and Mail

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke leaves the year end press briefing in Toronto Tuesday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press/Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Leave it to Brian Burke to offer a difference of opinion.

With much of the focus in the NHL playoffs on the eight suspensions handed down in the first week, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager told USA Today on Wednesday that the uproar over the issue was "like people complaining about the rain at Woodstock."

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"Yes, there was lots of mud, but it was the greatest music gathering in history," Burke said to the paper.

"I hope we continue to nail the people who are crossing the line," he added. "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."

Burke, who was the league disciplinarian for five years between 1993 and 1998, also defended the current holder of that position, Brendan Shanahan.

Shanahan's rulings have come under fire the past week, with both the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals issuing statements disagreeing with the suspensions given to their players.

"I think he's making the right calls and he's attaching the proper weight [to suspensions]" Burke said. "If you would give a guy six games in the regular season, how much do you [give]him in the first round?

"You can't make people happy, so just do the job. And I think Brendan is doing that. It's impossible for fans to be rational 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."