Brian Burke has done it all. He made it to the AHL as a player, but it’s not his playing career that he’s most known for. It was when he moved into management as his real talent started to display, and he’s been one of the most respected GMs in the last three decades.
He started out as an agent but soon started working in the front office, and few people have the same knowledge and expertise of hockey as Burke. Burke has been around for a long time and has probably seen it all.
He probably knows every hockey player that ever played in the NHL, so he should be able to tell the best from the worse. And the toughest from the… not so toughest.
Some years ago, he was asked which three players he considers the toughest in NHL history and what made each player so special. Here’s the list.
”I’ve got to put Tiger Williams in there,” Burke said. ”He’s the all-time penalty leader. He played in an era where you had to fight really tough guys. It’s not like he had an easy dance card, so I’d put Tiger first.
”I’m gonna put Gino Odjick second. He’s in the top five in penalty minutes and just a wonderful human being. Just a great guy. So I put Gino in there too.
Brian Burke said the third spot was tough, but he finally settled for Bob Probert.
”At number three, I’m gonna put Bob Probert. You got Tie Domi and Marty McSorley, and Dale Hunter. Those guys are all up there. They’re all legit.”
”You can’t do that job and not be legit. But Bob Probert was a guy to me that tried to win every fight. And when you try to win every fight, you’re gonna lose some fights. That’s when you get in trouble. If you try and get a draw in a fight, you can get a draw in a fight. But if you try to win, that’s when you lose. He tried to win every fight which I respected. And also, I liked the fact that even late in his career, he would give young guys their first spot.”