Mon Jul 07 09:10am EDT
In winning six Stanley Cups as a player, Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe had 1,498 regular-season penalty minutes. There is no quantifiable way to determine how many of those penalties were intentionally committed or instigated by a crafty opponent. But one could assume, based on Lowe's confounded diatribes last week against Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, that a great number of penalties were drawn from Lowe.
Because Kevin Lowe is, apparently, a sucker.
Maybe Burke is "a moron," like Lowe said during a blistering denunciation on Edmonton's Team 1260 last Friday. But Lowe is a chump; an ex-jock in a businesses suit who allowed himself to be goaded into spectacular unprofessionalism by an exasperating bully.
LCS Hockey compared this to the Scut Farkas affair in "A Christmas Story," when Ralphie snapped and beat the living crap out of his school-yard tormentor. It's a rather perfect link: Lowe responded to Burke's pot-shots about Edmonton adversely affecting the NHL's salary structure by leaping on top of him and pounding away wildly with his mittens; spewing a bunch of profane gibberish that the neighborhood kids cheered as cathartic.
Yet, like Ralphie, Lowe's just a petulant child who let his juvenile discontent nearly undermine what's been a rather joyous season. Rhetorically, he shot his eye out, kid.
Some TSN coverage of the Burke/Lowe affair, to get you up to speed:
The quote that set Lowe off was from Burke during a conference call after Corey Perry re-signed with Anaheim: "Most [general] managers don't like starting fights with any other managers. ... Thanks to the Edmonton Oilers, the second contract [for players] has disappeared. ... You go right now from entry-level to what used to be the third contract, thanks to two offer sheets from Kevin Lowe."
Going on to call the Oilers "dirty bastards" couldn't have helped, either.
So he uncorked a scathing, hilarious rebuttal that we will now fact-check:
• LOWE: "He's a moron, first of all."
Read Burke's take during the lockout and tell me he's a moron. When it comes to the insanity of a "hard" cap and the owners' piggy banks, he's practically a soothsayer.
• LOWE: "Secondly, he really believes that any news for the NHL is good news. Thirdly, he loves the limelight and I don't think anyone in hockey will dispute that."
He's a self-promoter who loves the limelight. No wonder Toronto's hot for him. I'm in awe of Lowe's powers of observation.
• LOWE: "Lastly, he's in a pathetic hockey market where they can't get on any page of the newspaper let alone the front page of the sports, so any of this stuff carries on."
Rudy Kelly from Battle of California had a rather definitive take on this faux pas from Lowe. Pissing in someone else's cereal like this may not be the best move for a city that just got the gas face from Hossa, despite offering him the gross national product of Uruguay.
Lowe is right that he's not alone is having grown the salary scale in the NHL. But when Columbus gives Rick Nash his money or Atlanta gives Ilya Kovalchuk his money, there's a slight difference than when Edmonton signs a significantly lesser player like Dustin Penner to a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet. And Lowe knows that.
Back to the Burke-bashing from the interview:
• LOWE: "He's an underachieving wanna-be in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings? Who cares, it's just a little pathetic that he carries on."
As my colleague Ross McKeon wrote yesterday: "How classic is that, Lowe flaunting his hardware." Like I said before: An ex-jock in a business suit. When the chips are down, throw on your old varsity jacket and try to score a one-nighter with a townie at the local pub to show that you've still got it.
If anyone should be dancing around, pointing at the Jumbotron, chanting "scoreboard," it's Burke. Lowe was absolutely destroyed in the Pronger trade. The Penner compensation could also be lopsided if Jake Gardiner and (especially) Nicolas Deschamps become the players they could become. So it's 1-0 Burke, potentially 2-0.
Of course, the quote above just underlines the silliness of this entire feud. Lowe got his rings on Gretzky's and Messier's teams, and Burke got his ring with Bryan Murray's team. Lowe has had his hits and misses for Edmonton as a GM, and he's correct when he says Burke gets way more credit as a player personnel man than he deserves. His draft history makes the LA Clippers look like the Red Wings.
But Burke deserves all the credit he can for being a Vince McMahon-level heel who managed to keep this grudge with Lowe going with constant cheap shots and snide remarks.
And despite what his cheerleaders in Edmonton say, Lowe deserves nothing but criticism for his outburst. He swallowed the bait and diminished a rather remarkable off-season for the Oilers that nearly became a blockbuster. He accepted a fight better left for the back rooms at GM meetings or between puckheads on fan message boards. He took a swing at an opponent begging to be punched, who's now skating away bloodied and laughing.
And that's why Lowe never won a Stanley Cup without Jeff Beukeboom or Dave Semenko on his team. Never, ever take the punch yourself if someone's asking for it.