It was tough to criticize Patrick Burke's work with You Can Play. It's a fabulous cause and he's done an incredible job with it.
But he's a Burke. He thrives on criticism. And thankfully, his new job will yield plenty more opportunities to face it. Two days after stepping aside at You Can Play, turning executive directorship of the project over to retired NFLer Wade Davis, the NHL has announced Burke, alongside Brian Leetch, as the two newest additions to the Department of Player Safety.
If you can target the head, you can't play. From the NHL:
Leetch will fill the position of Manager of Player Safety recently vacated by Rob Blake, who last month was named assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. Burke will serve in the newly-created position of Director of Player Safety.
"Brian Leetch and Patrick Burke are two astute members of the hockey community who will bring unique perspectives and personal experiences to the Department of Player Safety," Shanahan said. "As one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Brian displayed a rare sense of the game and its nuances that will be a tremendous asset to our department's efforts to make the game safer for our players while maintaining its physicality and passion. The ability to evaluate players that Patrick refined as a pro and amateur scout will be invaluable to the team that monitors games each night to both identify incidents that might merit Supplemental Discipline and to note developing trends in our game."
Again: Leetch replaces Rob Blake as the Department of Player Safety's top retired defenceman. He's a Hall of Famer, too. I hope he brings that up all the time in reviewing incidents.
"In my opinion, as a Hall of Fame defenceman -- did I mention I'm in the Hall of Fame? Because I totally am."
As for Burke, who now joins the same office his father once ran, there's little info on his newly-created position as of yet. From Shanahan's quote, one can gather that it will make use of Burke's keen eyes as a scout. He has a very scouty view of the game, you see.
But considering his background, and considering the NHL's difficulty over the past few years in dealing with tricky on and off-ice incidents that have nothing to do with hitting, but nonetheless call for a review and possibly supplemental discipline, it would also make sense to have someone around who can handle that.
Say, someone who has experience in tactfully dealing with some of these trickier issues. A Patrick Burke type, perhaps.