As general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke spent the bulk of his offseason trying to acquire forward Phil Kessel. As GM of Team USA, it seems as though Burke is searching for Kessel’s exact opposite.
Despite an undeniable scoring touch, physicality has never been a part of the 6-foot, 189-pound Kessel — and that’s not something that Burke will be looking for in building a team for the Winter Olympics.
“I think every game I watch should be more physical,” Burke told the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, after an awful performance in the 2006 Winter Games in Italy, a new approach is undeniably necessary. In those games, the U.S. went 1-3-1, failing to make its way out of group play. The Americans’ only win came against Kazakhstan, with the tie coming against Latvia.
If the Americans are going to better, Burke believes it’s going to have to be with a strictly American style. Adapting to an international style seems to be out of the question.
“I tell [people who prefer the international game] to go watch a game in the Czech league, where every shot comes from 12, 14 feet away from the net and no one checks anyone the whole damn game,” he told the newspaper. “It drives me absolutely nuts.”
So how physical does Burke hope his team plays? According to one hockey executive, it may take on the level of another sport.
“I think Brian must have been a rugby player in a former life,” John Davidson, president of the St. Louis Blues, told the Journal.
In all likelihood, Kessel — a Wisconsin native — wouldn’t be able to make the team, due to his recovery from shoulder surgery. Still, the team will be in good shape if Burke can find a way to secure this young man’s spot on the coaching staff:
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