The Time Brian Burke Beat the CBA


This man is currently contemplating the ideal barn layout.


While I still feel fairly hesistant about Brian Burke as the Calgary head honcho, it’s important to remember that he’s not a stupid man. His views about the importance of certain attributes may be misguided, but he’s hardly a complete caveman. 


In fact, he can be rather clever and inspired when it strikes him. On Grantland, Sean McIndoe wrote an article called 5 Huge NHL Moves You’ve Probably Forgotten, and while there’s a nice reminder of the fact that the Flames signed Teemu to his first NHL contract, the part that concerns us here at Flamesnation comes a bit later, under the subject "Olaf Kolzig and the Disappearing Draft Pick".

Kolzig, as most will remember, was the Capitals goalie for about eleventy billion years, before George McPhee finally decided enough was enough, and those other guys need to play already, amiright? So Kolzig went down to Tampa where he didn’t do much and ended up with an injury. So how does Burke get involved? I’ll let the article explain.


…at the 2009 trade deadline, [Kolzig] was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. When the deal was announced, a confused hockey world tried to figure out what was going on. Had there been some sort of mistake? Did the Leafs not know he was hurt? Had a frustrated Brian Burke finally snapped and decided that an injured and basically retired goalie would still be an upgrade over what he was stuck with at the time?


None of the above, as it turns out. Burke was just working the system. The Leafs acquired Kolzig as part of a package deal (there were other minor pieces going each way) knowing full well he’d never play for them. But the injured goalie was still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Leafs agreed to write the checks if the Lightning threw in a fourth-round pick in the 2009 entry draft. In essence, Burke had bought a draft pick.


For all the concerns I have regarding the direction Burke will take the Flames, one thing I’m not worried about is a repeat of the Ryan O’Reilly fiasco. Burke knows the CBA, he knows how to use it, and he’s smart enough to know what not to do. Sure, the NHL eventually taxed the Leafs for this with a minor CBA violation elsewhere, but that’s what happens when you embarrass the league.

If nothing else, the Burke era promises to be even more entertaining than the Feaster era.


  • Karasu89

    This whole ror thing… no one knew the rules until 24 hours later..vancouver offered him too.. so lets stop bringing up this example.. its an “academic point”

      • beloch

        The issue isn’t as cut and dry as everyone makes it out to be..

        If Colorado didn’t match and he went threw waivers the Flames would have filed a grievance and the issue would have likely been put in front of a 3rd party arbitrator who would have looked at all the data and made a ruling based on what was presented.

        Considering more than one team misinterpreted that section of the CBA it’s not hard to fathom us winning the ruling.

        The point being made, I think, is that we have no idea how it all would have played out so we should stop speculating.

        It worked out so no harm no foul, and Feaster is gone anyways so move on to bitching about Burke and his truculent views like everyone else already…

  • RexLibris

    Might be worth mentioning that the NHL called Burke on his deal and the Leafs were forced to forfeit that pick as a result.

    They also received a warning about future deals.

    That being said, Burke got Kolzig, Heward and Andy Rogers for career AHLer Richard Petiot.

    I’d argue this deal bears some similarity to the flubbed O’Reilly signing.

    • RedMan

      the flubbed ROR deal was an accident where Feaster just about stumbled into hockey hell. Burke’s deal on the other hand appears to be more of an intentional manipulation of gray area, which while he may not have gotten away with it, still demonstrates a shrewd angle rather then a frightening bumble.

      at least, that’s what it seems to me.

    • Flames that discussion:

      Brian pointed out that his teams are usually in the top 3 for PIM for fighting. On the Flames, he said, “We’re not there yet,” but his two enforcers are keeping their talent safe.

      Oh brother. I guess Brian missed the fact that the 4th line is a total write-off when both enforcers play and that neither of them prevented Gio from being run or Cammalleri getting concussed against PIT.

      • RedMan

        did you wonder, like I did, if you would see one of these mighty warriors go out and exact some retribution for said infractions?

        I guess i should know by now that the big guns will not go after those taking liberties and injuring our guys, but will only go after other big face punchers.

        then tap each other lovingly afterwards while the skilled players lay on the trainer’s table injured.

        I would feel a lot less bothered by carrying one or even two face punchers of they were actually frustrating and intimidating the other team.

        • Burnward

          Jeff, buddy; that’s exactly the point I have been trying to make on this blog: enforcers need to be feared, not just respected…..McGratten is not feared, he is respected.

          Testito and Kesler are 2 of the biggest douche bags in the game, but they did stand up for their team mates last night (Kesler is not an enforcer, just a cheap prick)………can we have some of that action the next time one of our “skilled” players get run please???


  • ChinookArchYYC

    I completely agree with the overall sentiment of this post. His views of how the game should be played and the type of players needed for the “truculent: style are archaic, but overall I consider him an excellent negotiator and good at getting value in trades.

    PS. I still don’t like or trust him.

  • RedMan

    quit the race for the bottom of the league, first pick over all. Yes, Buffalo looks like they’ve run away with it, but have you noticed that they have four games in hand against the Oiler’s and 2 against the Flames?

    • RedMan

      buffalo has a ton more in assets, a sane gm, a bona fide nhl coach and games with the leafs. seems like mac t is the vegas favourite to pick first overall.

    • beloch

      Smid is really starting to remind me of Steve Staos. He’s big, has great character, used to be good, and has sucked at hockey from the moment the Flames acquired him from Edmonton. The one major difference is that Staos was easy to get rid of. Smid is signed to $3.5M/yr for 3 more seasons after this!

      Maybe he’s just playing injured. That’s certainly possible given the way he plays. If he’s healthy… Damn. Once Russel returns, Smid should be given some games in the press box so he can heal up.

      • supra steve

        $3.5M for 3 more years, that’s a lot. But in about every 5th article on FN there is at least one post worried about how CGY will stay above the cap floor in the coming years. Deals like Smid’s, that’s how.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Interesting article indeed. I’m not sold on Burke’s ability to turn this team around. I would agree with Arik that he is a smart man when it comes to certain things, but when you consider Toronto is the 2nd worst team in the league possession wise right now, it makes me worry. If he can win enough trades and draft relatively well I think he will make the team competitive within 3 years. I don’t think he is the man to make us a contender. The league has changed too much.

      • Burnward

        This is where advanced stats begin to irritate me a bit… I’m not one to defend the Leafs but in a 30 team league they are currently 18th which leaves them one point out of a playoff spot and two points out of a tie for 5th in their conference.

        The fancy stats are growing on me and I’m embracing them more and more but 2nd worst in possession… so what?

        The team they’re one point behind is Detroit, perennial poster boys for possession.

        • Burnward

          Detroit is only okay this year in possession. 14th in a 30 team league. They had a really rough start but are trending up again. They’ve also had pretty lousy goaltending.

          Elite goaltending kind of messes with stuff like corsi/fenwick, and that’s what the Leafs were getting early on.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          It’s not All about possession. Toronto’s PDO was very high and the sabremetrics crowd correctly presented and predicted the Leafs eventual return to terrible. They were lucky for 30 or so games and are now playing to their skill level. I get your point their, record is pretty good, and in the end that’s all that matters. The Fancy Stats are predicting they’ll continue to get worse, I bet their right.

    • TDM

      I’m not gonna debate advanced stats but I can say that I watch 9/10 Flames games and am a season ticket holder and I don’t see the glaring flaws in Smid’s game..

      He isn’t offensive but we all knew that..

      The numbers say one thing but when I watch I never come away thinking Smid stunk it up and made a gaffe or two. It’s usually Butler or O’brien who frustrate me the most, and even they have played seemingly better lately.

      Am I the only one who doesn’t see it…?

      Is Smid the new Butler/Stajan: guy we fight about because some like and some hate?

      My scouting report on him is his assets are he is big, physical, gets in lanes to block shots, doesn’t panic with the puck, can skate out of danger if need be. His weaknesses are he isn’t offensive, he hangs onto the puck too long sometimes (when he is paired with a puck mover it is a little frustrating) and he could stand to use his size more often to his advantage. Overall a solid 4-5 shutdown d-man.

      I don’t get, well at least I don’t visually see, where all the hate comes from…

      In regards to Burke, we fire Feaster, to the joy of many, and people still aren’t happy. Will we ever be satisfied?

      He is our organizational leader, deal with it. In the end I think he will surprise a lot of people, in a positive sense.

      • beloch

        My beef with Smid is that advanced stats say he’s terrible and the eye-test makes him look even worse. He is painfully slow. Opposing wingers skate right around him and leave him choking on snow regularly. He can’t line up decent passes worth a darn and he takes too many stupid penalties. As a 5th/6th D playing 10 minutes a night he might be okay, but that’s not what you should get for $3.5M/yr! The Flames traded a pair of marginal prospects for what appears to be a negative value contract. Edmonton should have been sending quality pieces Calgary’s way to unload Smid.

        • beloch

          Smid is a very average defenseman but provides size and at times toughness. Fills a gap for the Flames D as a 5th or 6th guy.

          We gave up nothing for an average D. I’m good with the deal. The young goalie we gave up to the loser Oilers was not any better than the other high end goalie prospects in the Flames system and the young forward we gave up is not going to be a regular NHL’er.

  • Burnward

    Here’s something that’s been on my mind lately regarding CORSI. Just wondering if one of the guys that are devoted to it can help me out.

    How does the stat reconcile for bad teams? If a defenseman plays on a bad team…won’t he be getting his head beat in stats-wise most nights?

    • Burnward

      I guess the real question is…

      I was wondering if there shouldn’t be some kind of multiplier involved for a team’s winning percentage. Or is that craze?

    • mattyc

      You can normalize their Corsi against the team’s Corsi. Called relative Corsi. You can also relate it to the corsi of the players they face to get a measure of the if quality of competition.

        • RexLibris

          I tend towards relCorsi as a general rule, but for a better picture of a defenseman, and a way to value a defensive defender versus one that generates (or at least tries to) offense, I pair that with zone start and qualcomp.

          If someone is giving up few shots, spending fifteen to twenty minutes only 15 feet from his goaltender, and seeing a lot of that time against the opposition’s top lines, then he is probably a good defender, regardless of his boxcars and simple corsi.

          One thing I wish the AHL would track is some of these complementary statistics. I’m positive that teams do it in-house, but that it isn’t shared with the general public.

        • mattyc

          It’s true. relCorsi has problems too. (they all do – you still need context).

          eg. Backlund has a 49.1% Corsi, which is below even (50% is even), but has a relCorsi of 5.4%. WHich is pretty good, but it just means he’s 5% better than the average Flame.

  • Burnward

    Do we need to get bigger? Yes. Do we need to get bigger without getting more skilled? No.

    This team needs a bit of both and it probably can get done if you have a plan. We asked Kent what he would do if he was in charge and I’m sure he is working on it but I will give some of my thoughts.

    1. I have said many times that I would want to be able to roll 4 lines and have 3 sound defensive pairings. I want all my players to be able play either on the pp or pk and play a regular shift. If you can’t then you should be playing somewhere else.
    2. Like most on this sight I believe the Flames will trade our 3 UFA forwards and should trade Butler as he is a UFA. I would prefer to get draft picks or young prospects. If we do this we will be short of experienced NHL forwards. We would have Backs, Hudler and Glenx who I consider to be good enough to move forward with. The remainder of the NHlers we have are questionable going forward (TJG,DJone, McG and Westgarth) I believe we could upgrade our forward units via the UFA market. Ideally I would like to see the Flames carry 6/7 experienced NHL forwards.

    We have a number of emerging NHL forwards that are making good progress; Monahan, Bouma, Colborne, Byron and I would include Sven in this group. I would like to see us continue to allow this group to develop.

    We have a number of players who are entering their pro careers who I would like to see play both in the NHL and the AHL. Currently we have the following guys in the AHL that have demonstrated that they should get a chance; Knight, Granlund, Rhino, Ferland and Hankowski to name a few.Plus we have a number of guys who will be turning pro and will need time in the AHL but could push for some time with the big club.(Poirier, Arnold, Agostino and Johny G) I would like to see about 3 of these guys given time with the big club, have the west jet points add up. So my forwards would include 6/7 experienced NHLer’s, 3/4 emerging NHLer’s and 2/3 entering the NHL.

    I would like to see the team pursue the following UFA’s: Stastny,Winnik,Raymond, Santorrelli, Seteguhshi,,Callahan, Legwand, Pouliot,and Vanek. (these names are from capgeek as free agents. All are under 30 except Legwand. I would like see us try and get 3 of this group. We should have cap space to attract some of these guys. Term would be an issue that I would concerned with. There are others but this would be the top of my list. Sorry if I misspelled any names.

    On the backend I quite like Gio,TJB, Wides and I would resign Russell. While I don’t see any of them as elite I believ this group gives us a 2a and a 2b set of pairings. Smid is an adequate 5th Dman but I would like to see us try and upgrade 5-7. I am not sure we have anyone with the Heat who could fill the void but I would like to Billins, Rmage and Cundari be given a chance after the trade deadline. I believe Spoon is not ready and Sieloff is going to need some time in AHL before he will have earned his chance. The guys coming out of the CHL and NCAA will all need lots of time before they can fill the void. So we need to pursue UFA’s; again here’s my list that I think we should pursue; Fistric, Nikitin, Mezaros, Niskanen, Stuart, Fraser, Ranger and Giardi. All under 30. I would like us to add 2 from this list.(again sorry if I spelled any names wrong)

    Goalies: Ramo is under contract one more year, lets see where he takes this opportunity. I would probably lean towards Berra for another year but I have not made my mind up. Ortio I want around for at least a couple of more years. I think I would encourage Gilles to play one more season by then we will know about the Euro goalies.

    This would be my plan as imperfect as it is. It would allow us to pursue skill and some size. it would allow some young players to develop and continue to shelter or emerging players a bit.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Coachedpotatoe..this may surprise you but i’m going to give you a prop. You have obviously given this some thought and I agree with many of your suggestions. A few exceptions I have is I don’t believe the D you propose is big enough hence I don’t think you will ever seed Billins and Cundari play here based on current Burke philosophy. On the goaltending I agree with Ramo but I don’t see a future for Berra. Burke style is also to bring in a star goaltender and/or forward to build around.

      Nice job!

      • TDM

        I would rather have the conversation that props or trashes anyways. I agree that neither Billins or Cundari may be big enough in the long run, but after the trade deadline I would like to see them and see if either is a replacement d if someone ie Russell/TJB ever gets hurt again. If we had a pp quarterback instead of O’B on the backend we may have not gotten into the big o problems. I’m not overlly sold on Berra but see it as buying time, not sure who Burke would bring in as I did not look at the UFA goalies. Also some of the freeagents on the back end are a little bigger and yet more skilled than O’B or Smid. Who would you look at?

    • Parallex

      “I believe we could upgrade our forward units via the UFA market.”

      With McGrattan and Westgarth dressing every night I believe we could upgrade our forward units via the waiver wire.

  • Rockmorton65

    I’m excited and optimistic to see what Burke will do leading up to the draft. Remember, the last time he had the third overall pick, he managed to draft both the Sedins.

    • RexLibris

      Ekblad is considered by some (not myself) to be nearly NHL ready.

      Forwards almost always are closer to the grade (because of linemates and sheltering) than defenders at this stage.

      My guess is of Bennett, Draisaitl, Ekblad and Reinhart, one might be NHL ready. Whichever one goes 1st overall is a pretty good bet, after that it depends on the desperation/shortsightedness of the team.