‘Coaches have a shelf life’: Former Leafs GM Brian Burke

With his days as an official front-office NHL executive on hold, it’s been quiet times for former Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke.

The fiery Irishman has had little to say since being fired just prior to the season, but you can’t keep a good quote down forever and Burke was in vintage form Friday morning in Boston.

Speaking on a panel at the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference, Burke was at his bombastic best, addressing several issues from his ill-fated tenure at the helm of the Leafs.

At various points, he took a run at newspaper coverage, sports talk radio, the dangers of placing too much stock in statistical analysis of the game and players and at the difficult fallout with Ron Wilson, his friend and former coach who he fired a year ago on Saturday.

The premise of the panel, entitled “It’s Not You, It’s Me” was to discuss disputes that happen between players, coaches and general managers.

Here are some of the highlights as reported by the official Twitter feed of the conference in which Burke was joined by, among others, former NFL executive Bill Polian and former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy:

On what Burke believes to be the over use of statistics to analyze talent: “If you’re looking at statistics alone and saying we’re drafting this guy, good luck. I hope you’re in my division.

“Statistics are like a lamppost for a drunk: Useful for support, but not illumination. It’s an eyeball business.”

On newspaper coverage, presumably based in part on his experience here in Toronto: “A sports page when you are losing has value only if you are a puppy or a parakeet.”

6 Responses to ‘Coaches have a shelf life’: Former Leafs GM Brian Burke

  1. HABSSTAR says:

    It would seem GMs have a shelf life too.

  2. mojo19 says:

    I agree with that quote about statistics. I like stats too, but you can have a much better assessment of a player from watching.

    Stats can be very situational as well. Did you know only 4 players in history have scored 150 points in a season or more? (Jagr had 149 in his best season)
    Those 5 players are: Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, and Bernie Nichols. One of those guys doesn’t belong, but of course Nichols put up his magical 70 goal, 80 assist season playing with Gretzky.

    Just an example, we all know some players stats are inflated because of who they play with. There are tons of examples of misleading stats in sports, and everything should be taken in context.

    • doorman says:

      This is true however Nichols scored more then 90 pts a few times before Wayne I think even 100 pts once

      • mojo19 says:

        Bernie Nichols was a great hockey player, but just saying, look at the company he’s with on that stat, he’s the obviously odd ball of the group. No knock on Nichols though, everyone is inferior when compared to Wayne, Mario, and Yzerman.

  3. leafy says:

    If coaches have a shelf life, Lindy Ruff was pickled vinegar when he was canned.

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