Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Burke's Law' Might Restore Sanity to Nhl

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Burke's Law' Might Restore Sanity to Nhl

Article excerpt

Brian Burke never set out to be the best hope for sanity in the National Hockey League boardroom.

He just wanted to skate for pay, smack a few peers as need be and score the odd goal as fate allowed.

Somehow the beefy, bushy-haired redhead found himself in a white collar, although his shirttail still refuses to stay tucked into his trousers.

Burke, 38, is the NHL's rookie director of hockey operations and senior vice president. We and he have Blake Dunlop, the ex-Blues center, partially to thank for that.

The year was 1978. Dunlop and Burke were on the Maine Mariners, a Philadelphia Flyers farm club.

"I played physical and fought reasonably well," Burke said, "but I wasn't even a good tough guy because I hardly ever played. I had eight points and only 80 penalty minutes. I wanted to come back, but I had been accepted to Harvard Law School. They gave me a deferment to play that year in Maine, and they told me they wouldn't extend it."

Burke started playing hockey in Minnesota at the belated age of 13. With no scholarship offers, he walked on at Providence College. He earned a partial grant his second year, a full scholarship his third year and the captaincy as a senior.

Being a pro ruffian in Maine seemed more fun than hitting books at Harvard. To Dunlop, a broker now with A.G. Edwards, the dilemma was absurd: "I said, `Burkie, if you're smart enough to get into Harvard, you're smart enough to figure this out.' He heeded my words, and now look where he is."

Burke really didn't get the message until he heard it again from Keith Allen, the Flyers general manager. "I wanted somebody to tell me to play," Burke said. "I'll always be grateful for that honesty, even though it hurt my feelings."

After Harvard, he passed the bar and became an agent for 45 players, including a fat kid from Duluth.

Burke remembers the night when a Joanne Robinson called as he was leaving his office. His secretary said she was calling about representing her son. "I said I'd call her back," Burke said. "My secretary said, `You want to take this call. She's Brett Hull's mother.' "

Why would a woman in Vancouver with a son in college at Duluth call a Boston agent? …

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