He proved that last week when he took a trip to visit with Canadian troops in Afghanistan. He made the trip despite the opening of NHL free agency on Friday, which brought some criticism from Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons.
Simmons claimed that Burke's absence contributed to the Leafs' inability to land free agent Brad Richards, a claim that left Burke feeling "deeply offended."
"They ask you to go. It's not like you call them and say, 'Hey, it would be good PR if I went to Afghanistan,'" Burke told the National Post. "I didn't tell anyone I went and I didn't talk to anyone when I got back. I did it because it was the right thing to do."
Simmons didn't back off from his point when asked about it.
"I don't regret anything," Simmons told the website. "I made a point that a lot of people thought and weren't willing to go forward on. I think that's something that needed to be done."
Burke explained that he had Skype and his cell phone set up in Afghanistan in the event that his staff needed to contact him. Simmons' colleage at the Sun, Rob Longley, also noted that Toronto's AHL GM Dave Nonis "was in touch with Burke so often, that at times it took the boss away from his interaction with the troops."
Simmons also took to Twitter to defend himself.
"Question for all those offended by my views: Name another NHL team that would allow their GM to be absent on July 1st ?" he wrote.
"There are 350 [days] a year to visit troops," he added. "I'm not against that. You don't go it on July 1. Not another GM in the game would do that."
That last point is undoubtedly true, but it's fairly clear that Brian Burke, for better and otherwise, is unlike his peers.