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[Article] Did Brian Burke unintentionally shed some light on the way the NHL screwed the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final?

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Did Brian Burke unintentionally shed some light on the way the NHL screwed the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final? (this is pretty good)


Sometimes it's hard to get over being screwed big time, especially when hockey insiders like Brian Burke are on hand to let you know just how badly. 


If you blinked (or hit the fridge for a fifth Red Truck Mexican Lager) during Monday's Game 7 between the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars, you missed something revelatory in Hockey Night in Canada's "To the Point" segment. And, no, it wasn't that Brad Marchand remains the NHL's number-one $&!#stain for the game's purists. 


What was fascinating was Burke's breakdown of a Charlie McAvoy hit on Josh Anderson in Game 6 of the Boston Bruins–Columbus Blue Jackets series. For those who missed it, McAvoy launched himself upward to drive his shoulder into Anderson's head late in the second period, receiving nothing more than a two-minute penalty from famously clueless referee Kelly Sutherland


In the opinion of hockey fans with semifunctioning eyeballs, that call was blown big-time, which explained the NHL stepping in with supplemental discipline. McAvoy was subsequently assessed a one-game suspension, which many felt was just the latest bit of irrefutable evidence that the NHL has its head wedged firmly up its ass when it comes to dealing with headshots. 


Burke, who in the '90s served as director of hockey operations with the NHL, argued that the league got it right. And, in doing so, he gave Vancouver Canucks fans reason to get outraged all over again about the way their team was rogered by the NHL in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. 


In the clip above, Burke explains that there's a system, which he helped draw up, and which is still used today, for suspensions handed out in the playoffs. By the time things have progressed to the third round and the Stanley Cup Final, a one-game suspension is equal to roughly eight or 10 regular-season games. 

So while many feel that McAvoy got off lightly with one game for the Anderson hit, he was in fact dinged for the regular-season equivalent of eight to 10 games. 

Burke then showed two completely egregious and indefensible hits by two of the dirtiest players in the history of the NHL playoffs. One of them—Claude Lemieux driving Kris Draper into the boards face-first in a Round 3 game between the Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings in 1996—was deemed worthy of two games. Which, Burke pointed out, was actually the equivalent of a 16-to-20-game regular-season suspension. 


At the risk of getting off-topic for a second, the Lemieux hit on Draper was so bad, it eventually led to one of the greatest revenge-games ever played in the NHL. (Depending on who you talk to, said game is referred to today as “Bloody Wednesday,” “The Brawl at Hockeytown” and/or “Fight Night at the Joe.” In his autobiography My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star, McCarty writes "During my career, there were other times when I wanted to pound the $&!# out of an opponent, but I’d never wanted to hurt anyone as much as I wanted to hurt Lemieux."


Here's the footage of the revenge game. Which is all the proof you need that the two playoff games given enough might have been enough for the NHL, but it wasn't for the Wings, who got even big time when the teams met the next season. Yes there was blood spilled, and it was beautiful. 



Back to Burke's To the Point segment, his other suspension example was Anaheim Mighty Ducks repeat offender Chris Pronger getting one game in the final for flagrantly throwing an elbow at the head of Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond. 


And what does all of this have to do with Vancouver's Stanley Cup loss in 2011, you might ask?


Not to trigger your ongoing PTSD over the event, but recall, if you will, Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome hitting Boston forward Nathan Horton at the blue line in Game 3. Rome—in a game refereed by the immortal Kelly Sutherland—was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Horton was concussed and did not play the rest of the series. It's generally accepted that Boston, which was down 2-0 in the series at that point, used the hit as a rallying point, eventually taking the Cup Final four games to three. 



As hits go, no one's arguing that it wasn't late. And only the most homer-ish of Canucks fans would argue that Rome didn't deserve a suspension, precedent suggesting maybe something along the lines of what Pronger got. 


Instead, the NHL threw the book and the bookcase at Rome, despite his having no history of suspensions. He was given a four-game suspension for a second-late hit that was nowhere near as nasty as Pronger's or Lemieux's. Or as optically bad as McAvoy's targeting the head of Anderson, who was at the time considered in a vulnerable position. 


Or as bad as this from Pronger's long rap sheet, which led to, again, a one-game suspension (or eight games) in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final in 2007. That's right, one for a deliberate and unrepentently brutal attempt to injure Detroit Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom. 



In making its ruling on Rome vs. Horton, the NHL's Mike Murphy noted that while there was some head contact, the main problem with the Rome hit was that it was "close to a second late". And that Horton was injured. 


"We have our own formula at NHL Hockey Operations for determining late hits, and it was late," Murphy said at the time. "We saw the seriousness of the injury with Nathan on the ice last night. That's basically what we deliberated on. We tried to compare it with some of the other ones in the past. But it stands alone. It's why we made the ruling."


A ruling, he told sbnation.com, that wasn't because Rome targeted Horton's head. 


It was the "lateness combined with the injury," he said. 


This was the first multigame suspension in the history of the Stanley Cup Final. It remains the longest suspension ever handed out in a Stanley Cup Final. And using the formula that Burke outlined on Monday, it means that the NHL chose to suspend Rome for the equivalent of 40 regular-season games. (We're rounding up, as we're talking the final round rather than Round 3.) 


No other player in NHL history has ever received more than a one-game suspension in the final, pre- or post-Rome. 


Rome got a mind-boggling half a season even though he had no history of crossing the line. And, lest one forget, the decision came from an NHL headquarters where the head of discipline, right up up until the final got under way, was Colin Campbell, who decided to step down from the position only at the 11th hour because his son Gregory Campbell played for the Boston Bruins. 


The Canucks ended up so depleted on defence that a 21-year-old rookie named Chris Tanev was eventually forced into service. 

In case you are curious, the length of the Rome suspension remains second only to one served to San Jose Shark Raffi Torres for a 2015 regular-season hit on Jakob Silfverberg. Torres had previously been suspended four times, and the general consensus was that something drastic had to be done before he killed someone.



A repeat and dangerous offender, Torres was given 41 games for the above hit. One more than Rome's equivalent, using Burke's formula. A formula the NHL has kept secret for years.


Even Murphy refused to divulge the formula he was using in the sbnation.com interview. 

"My number is four," he argued. "It is what it is. It stands alone."


Based on information provided by Burke Monday, Murphy wasn't totally telling the truth in the exchange:


Q. Is there a formula equating playoff games to regular-season games?

MIKE MURPHY: Yes. It's more severe.

Q. Is there a number?

MIKE MURPHY: No. I wish there was a number. There's not. You have to feel that. I know in the past when we had a playoff suspension, I remember the Pronger elbow going back, the Lemieux hit going on, that was two, Pronger was one. I spoke to the gentleman who issued the two. Wanted his formula, talked to him about it. I'm talking about Brian Burke."


After Torres, the next-longest suspension in NHL history is to repeat offender Chris Simon of the New York Islanders, who got 30 games for intentionally stomping on the leg of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu with his skate.


Eight years after Rome's suspension, the NHL talks endlessly about stopping hits to the head. Which explains why, having set a precedent with Rome's hit and his 40-game-equivalent suspension, Charlie McAvoy just got 10 games for a far worse hit. 


If recent history has taught as anything, it's that it's good to be wearing a Boston Bruins jersey in the playoffs. (Ask then Bruins defender Johnny Boychuck, who got no games for driving Canuck Mason Raymond into the boards and breaking his back in the 2011 final.)


Vancouver, on the other hand, is a franchise that exists to get screwed by the NHL, never more heinously so than in 2011. Don't even get us started on all the $&!# that was missed and not called in the games after the Rome hit, when it became open season on anyone wearing a pair of ice skates, especially if the name on the back of the jersey was Sedin. For a Coles Notes version, go here. Or here


At this point, you're probably sitting there thinking that Vancouver Canucks fans have made a cottage industry out of arguing that the team is regularly screwed by the NHL. West Coasters have been doing it for decades, from Roger Neilson waving the white towel in the '80s to Todd Bertuzzi's suspension derailing the West Coast Express once and for all in the '00s. 


This time, however, we've got proof the NHL gave the Canucks a Grade-A, lube-free rogering in 2011. Brian Burke confirmed that Monday, even if he didn't mean to.  

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7 minutes ago, NewbieCanuckFan said:

Like some exGM of the Canucks was rumored to have screwed us with getting the Luongo rule implemented....

I think we're going to escape either via him showing up and not passing a physical eventually be it with us or Florida. That or Canucks fully contest it via judicial means. 

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8 minutes ago, Gnarcore said:

I think we're going to escape either via him showing up and not passing a physical eventually be it with us or Florida. That or Canucks fully contest it via judicial means. 

We can only hope I guess at this point.  You can be sure that if it were some OTHER team the league would let them off the hook.

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Worst departments of all departments. It shouldn't be weighted at all. So in the finals where 1 playoff game is = 6  regular season game suspension, why not commit a "5 game regular season suspension worthy play". Which will result in no suspension in the playoffs right?

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3 minutes ago, Fateless said:

A brutal call for sure. Although I still don't blame our defeat on the suspension. More the terrible officiating in general.

Much like the Sharks playoff series.  A total travesty the officiating with Kelly Sutherland doing his best Monica Lewinsky impression with the Sharks.  Better team (on paper) won the series but that doesn’t mean the refs weren’t a disgrace.  Funny how the Sharks continue get fellated by the zebras to this day.

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Actually there was someone on Sportsnet 650 (was it Burkie?  can't remember now) recently that talked about the formula.  


I remember hearing about the multiplier in the last month, just can't remember who it was. 

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& furthermore, F*** BB & his lame, "to the point". Got tired of listening to this pompous a**hole 27 yrs back on Dan russell's lamebrain talk/call in-drudgery.


Even David Amber is starting to sound like feeble lackey, MacLean, as they kowtow to two obnoxious, egotistical megalomaniacs. That guy had potential as a host..sure Earning his daily bread with these weak F***ing segments!


Time-travel back to 1990..sit down with a pencil & paper, drafting up a plan on how to DESTROY what was a great league, & fine entertainment, for Canada from coast to coast.


You could never out-do what they've actually done to the NHL I used to love. Can't believe I've hung in so long(waiting for change)..but so glad to have left the corporate manipulation/corruption/advertising 24/7 of 21st C North America. Bullying, predictable, persistent & boring. Lowest common denominator, served up by ol' boys' club idiots like Burke!

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Used to like the Georgia Strait, back in the street mag days. Pretty sad that it takes a little known, local publication like this to ask hard questions towards the #riggeddeckleague.


Oh & in 2019 as well!


Maybe we can start to expect articles asking hard questions about things like Fukushima, or Chernobyl, as it seems even ****ing novels are more contemporary/up-to-date at this pace!

:^) lovely

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5 hours ago, xereau said:




Thanks for this trip down memory lane.


One thing people have to keep in mind was an incident at the end of the first period in game 1 back in Vancouver. When Burrows was involved in an incident with Bergeron. Burrows wound up biting Bergeron's finger. While the replay of this incident is inconclusive. The tape does not show Burrows' jaw moving forward to meet Bergeron's finger. It shows Bergeron face washing Burrows and his finger entering Burrows' mouth. Burr then bit him. By the rule book, biting is a suspendable offence. The refs gave Bergeron 2 mins for roughing, and gave Burrows a double minor for roughing. The Bruins were incensed Burrows was not suspended. Even more so when Burrows scored the OT winner in game 2. The NHL drew heavy criticism for not suspending Burrows. Noted goofball Mike Milbury was especially loud in his criticism.


That certainly set the table for the NHL to even things up. And even things up they certainly did.


Now on to the game in this video. I was at this game with a buddy of mine. This game and this hit changed the series in an instant. First things first. Canucks Nation travels extremely well. Canucks fans by my estimation were about 10% of the building and boy were we in a jovial mood ahead of the game. And why wouldn't we be up 2-0? I remember standing by some random Canuck fan in the warm up when the DJ played a Rush song. I say to him "haha they're even playing Rush for us" He says back to me "might as well play The Hip, really make us feel at home".


Bruins fans were downtrodden. Then in pre-game they crank up "Cochise" by Audioslave and the mood changes. It was like feeding Bruins fans raw meat, they went wild and were out for blood. Then in the beginning of the second, Aaron Rome just crushes Horton and instantly Canucks fans in the building were having abuse hurled at them. I didn't witness it first hand but I heard several accounts by Canucks fans that they got peed on while using the urinals (something Habs fans are use to in TD Gardens). It was a nasty atmosphere.


Then the Canucks just got run the F over, and the final was 8-1. Didn't realize it at the time but the series had shifted. The Bruins were now fully in control. We would only score another 3 goals in the remaining 4 games. :(


My buddy and I were sitting in the lower bowl just to the side of the Canucks bench. If I pause the video at just the right second When Rome flattens Horton I can see the two of us. LOL


Edit - It should be noted for the record that the Bruins' whining about Burrows not being suspended was pretty hypocritical after what Nathan Horton got away with in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Final against Tampa. During game 6 (which Tampa won 5-4) Horton sprayed a Tampa fan with his water bottle.


The NHL earlier that year instituted a zero tolerance policy for players interacting with fans after Vancouver's Rick Rypien was suspended 6 games for grabbing a fan in Minnesota. However, Horton would receive no suspension. Why is this important? Because Horton would score the only goal in a game 7, 1-0 victory securing Boston's spot in the final.


Mind you the NHL did have to do something to save face after that screw up...............


BOSTON — It probably won't come as much solace to Tampa fans, but Bruins forward Nathan Horton didn't get away completely free for his incident after Boston's Game 6 loss at the St. Pete Times Forum. Horton got involved with a fan as the Bruins left the ice after the 5-4 defeat on Wednesday, squirting water and then tossing a water bottle into the crowd. Horton was not suspended for the incident and scored the only goal in the Bruins' 1-0 win in Game 7 on Friday to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, but general manager Peter Chiarelli revealed Saturday that Horton has been fined. Chiarelli did not state the amount of the fine, but the maximum fine allowed under the collective bargaining agreement is $2,500.      <------- Hahahahahaha


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