Veteran National Hockey League executive Brian Burke is never afraid to speak his mind but that can often get him in trouble as well. Burke speaks his mind plenty in his new book, Burke's Law, but some of the comments he made in that book have drawn the ire of veteran Toronto journalist Steve Simmons, and as all of you know very well he is also a man that is not afraid to speak his mind.
Burke is critical of the controversial sports columnist in that new book, also taking the time to criticize Larry Brooks of the New York Post, former Toronto journalist Al Strachan and Tony Gallagher in Vancouver, and calls Simmons "the worst of the bunch," a description that no doubt would line up with the one many Leafs' fans also have for him.
The feud between the two men would seem to stem from the fact that Simmons once called Burke out on the opening day of free agency, July 1st 2011 to be precise, when the then Leafs general manager had booked a trip to Afghanistan. Burke was of course supporting the troops overseas but Simmons nonetheless had called him out for a dereliction of duty as the Leafs general manager on arguably the most important day of the year. Burke touched on the story in his book, admitting that he had been outraged by the article.
"I was so outraged and offended," wrote Burke in his book. "It was the lowest thing I’ve seen in journalism in my 30-plus years in the hockey business. It was a gratuitous cheap shot."
Simmons says he has a long history with Burke in spite of Burke claiming in his book that this is in fact not the case.
"I barely spoke to him," writes Burke, "And I never liked him."
You would not expect an outspoken sports columnist to take these kind of shots lying down and Simmons in fact has now fired back at Burke on two separate occasions . In a recent article for The Province, Simmons says that he reached out and actually spoke to other NHL general managers about that fateful trip to Afghanistan, and reveals that Burke's fellow general managers had been even harsher than Simmons himself in their criticisms of that decision. One NHL general manager reportedly told the journalist that his owner would have given him permission to go, but only under the condition that he never return.
"Sure you can go, just don’t bother coming back," said the GM as per Simmons.
The latest shot from across the bow on the part of the notorious columnist comes from just earlier today, where he correctly points out that Burke has put him in a very special class of journalist in his book, albeit no doubt unintentionally. Here is Simmons in his own words:
The irony of this: The other writers Burke singles out, Larry Brooks in New York, Tony Gallagher in Vancouver, Al Strachan, then in Toronto, have all been recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame …
A feud between these two comes as no surprise given the personality of each man, and something tells me that given those personalities the war between these two may have no end in sight.