Only Brian Burke Causes Drama When NHL Teams Sign Restricted Free Agents

Eric RenkemaCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2008

As of mid-July, there were two restricted free agents signed to offer sheets.  The Vancouver Canucks first put in an offer sheet to St. Louis Blues forward David Backes, which the Blues soon matched. 

A week later, the Blues put in an offer sheet for recently acquired Canucks forward Steve Bernier. The Canucks soon matched that as well.

Now, my problem is not that these offer sheets were extended to these restricted free agents.  It is in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, so it is all on the level. They both were playing by the rules of the playground. 

My problem is that there was no real hullabaloo in the media this time!  There was no verbal bullying by one of the General Managers involved while the other General Manager was made to look like he broke the rules.

When Dustin Penner was given an offer sheet last year by the Edmonton Oilers,  Brian Burke was livid.  He used the media to tear Kevin Lowe a new one.  Burke saw the move as "an act of desperation" by a GM "fighting to keep his job."

When Backes and then Bernier was signed, the media just commented along the lines of Larry Pleau (Blues General Manger) "getting back" at Mike Gillis (Canucks General Manager).   Tit for tat. 

There was nothing in the media about one "lashing out" (the term some Canadian papers used for the Burke/Lowe/Penner signing) at another.  Was this the case because the practice of signing restricted free agents to offer sheets is expected? 

"Oh, Backes was signed to an offer sheet.  Ho-hum.  What else is new in the sports world?"  Was it because the offers were relatively small?? "Hey!  It's only $2.5 Million.  That's minimum wage in the National Hockey League!" 

Or, is it because there was no hot-headed bully like Brian Burke getting poached of a player?  If either Backes or Bernier had played for the Anaheim Ducks, then Brian Burke would have made this a story! 

Signing a restricted free agent is only a story when Brian Burke is involved.