Just as players on the ice, the NHL GM’s can be in for a great deal of rivalries against each other.
And one of the most classic ones sure is the Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe rivalry. They’d been good friends but in the summer of 2007 it all changed.
The Oilers’ GM Lowe decided to put in an offer sheet for Ducks forward Dustin Penner, signing the 24-year-old to a five-year $21,25-million deal.
Anaheim GM Brian Burke thought the move was “gutless” and went on criticizing Lowe for his actions.
“That really pissed me off, because I knew the player wasn’t worth the money,” Burke said on the Spittin Chiclets podcast. “And I knew I had Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf coming, and now I gotta pay them something north of there. So I was really sour at him. He didn’t ’t even call me to tell me that he put in an offer sheet, the league called me.”
Burke knew straight away that they couldn’t match the offer for Penner, who scored 29 goals the season before.
At the same time Lowe was doing interviews back in Edmonton, challenging Burke to a fight.
”I called Glen Sather and said ’that bastard challenged me to a fight on the radio, I’ve never been challenged to a fight before and not taking the challenge’,” Burke explained. “So he’s fighting me, I said ’I’m going to be at the Holiday Inn in Lake Placid on August 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I’ll rent a barn, I’ll kick his ass, I’ll drive him to the hospital and we get this behind us’,”.
Burke took the call with Sather in the backyard of his house in Newport Beach. But he didn’t know his wife heard it all. She wasn’t happy, asking him if he’d “lost his mind”.
Shortly afterwards, Gary Bettman got the news of what Burke was planning and decided to step in.
”I don’t know if she called Bettman or “Slats” called Bettman, but Gary called me half an hour later and said ’you’re not fighting Kevin Lowe, I’ll suspend you longer than your contract if you do’. So we never actually had the fight and now we never will,” Burke said on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast.
A couple of years later, Burke’s son Brendan Burke overheard his dad calling Lowe ”a no good bastard” over the phone. That was the moment their relationship took another turn, which led to Burke and Lowe reconciling.
And even though it would have been a sight seeing Burke and Lowe swinging at each other in a Lake Placid barn, this probably was the best ending this story could’ve gotten.
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