On Sunday I shared with you most of the highlights from Brian Burke—s appearance at an executive breakfast. Due to time constraints and formatting issues (and word count. That—s Petrielli—s bit), I had to omit an excellent story that Burke told about an altercation between the Fire Department of Vancouver and former Canucks tough guy Donald Brashear near the end of his tenure there. With the movies like Goon and Slap Shot portraying hockey players are lug nuts who can barely function in normal society, Burke related a story that in no way dispels this motif.
As a caveat to both the readers and potential claimants in a libel suit, I cannot certify the veracity of this particular story. I got the sense that Brian Burke is close to his Irish roots in that he—s an admitted lapsed Catholic and that the point of a story isn—t the facts, it—s the story. My family can relate. But this was a tale that Burke told the assembled group last Wednesday, and I—d feel derelict in my duty not to pass it along. Burke re-enacted two scenes, playing out both parts, from a phone call with the Fire Chief of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and an in-person meeting with Donald Brashear.
So to borrow a page from the ever entertaining Toronto Truculent, here—s Burke—s epic. I took a little liberty with the delivery, but the vast majority of the dialogue below actually occurred if Brian can be believed.
Late 1990—s (you can faintly hear super group Chumbawumba—s Tubthumping on the air). Brian Burke sits in his office at General Motors Place, poring over reports about a pair of hot Swedish twins. A tie rests crumpled and undone about his chest; several others lie strewn about the room, their silken fabric irreparably damaged.
The phone rings.
Brian Burke: Slats, That you? Have you seen this Victoria Silvstedt chick? Yowza.
Fire Chief: (voice over) Uh, no. Well, actually yes I have. Just smokin— (soft chuckle). Mr. Burke, this is Fire Chief Olson calling from Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, I—d like to have a word with you regarding one of your employees.
BB: (frenetically tying up his tie) Well, what is it?
FC: It—s regarding Donald Brashear, we—d like to contact the police and arrest him for impeding an emergency vehicle.
FC: Well, while driving along Pacific Boulevard to a fire, one of our trucks ended up stuck behind Mr. Brashear—s car for about 7 or 8 blocks. He refused to yield to the truck, and the crew reports that when they finally did pass him, he made a crude gesture and issued a verbal assault towards the driver.
BB: Cut the political crap. What—d he do and say?
FC: ¦He gave them the finger and told them to go fuck themselves.
BB: do you have any proof it was Brashear?
FC: Well, he looked to be about 6—4, 230. We radioed the police, gave him the license plate. Also —
BB: Also, what?
BB: ¦ well?
FC: (nervously) ¦Well, he—s a Vancouver Canuck. I mean¦ c—mon.
BB: Fair enough (yanking his tie loose). Look, lemme talk to the guy. I need to get his side of story before we escalate any of this.
Burke hangs up.
Burke then went on to explain the formal nature of a GM and player meeting. He let the audience know that the standard procedure is for the player to come wearing a suit, because typically such meetings result in a player being traded or demoted.
Burke sits in his office. Magnum Opus Are you Jimmy Ray? by Jimmy Ray softly plays in the background. Burke opens a drawer and pulls out a brand new tie, still in its original packaging. He takes it out of the cover.
A knock at the door.
Burke quickly crumples up the tie then throws it over his shoulders.
Brian Burke: Come in!
Enter Donald Brashear, in a towel and still dripping water. Author—s note: Actually. Brashear walks over to a leather chair opposite Burke—s desk and flops down. Burke cringes as Brashear crosses his legs.
Donald Brashear: How—s it hanging, Burkie?
BB: (glancing away) ¦right. So, Brash, coming to practice, was there any problems along Pacific?
DB: Nah, typical commute.
BB: Really, Brash? You—re sure.
DB: Nothing out of the ordinary.
BB: No problems with any other drivers?
DB: (reflecting inwardly) ¦Actually, now that you mention it? Some asshole was riding my bumper for like 8 blocks!
BB: That was the fire department, Brash.
DB: Yeah, and their sirens were so loud!
BB: Anything else happen?
BB: (sighing) Brash¦ when the firemen finally passed you¦
DB: Oh yeah. I gave them the finger and told them to go fuck themselves. I don—t know why they were in such a ru —
BB: (fuming) that—s because they were heading to an emergency! Brash, you need to get out of the way of them!
DB: What? Why? They had room to pass —
BB: No, Brash. See, it—s the law. You need to yield before emergency vehicles. Don—t you know that?
DB: but Burkie, I—m tryin to tell you, they had room to pass!
BB: That—s not the point. Do you understand how serious this is? Someone could have been hurt! Hell, they could have been heading to your house!
DB: Hah, not a chance! (Pointing behind himself) My house is the other way!