Brian Burke Thinks Decentralizing the NHL Draft is “Really Stupid”

Sportsnet: Brian Burke on the Jeff Marek Show talking about the NHL and how decentralizing the NHL Draft is not a move and it’s “really stupid.”

** transcription

Marek: “I was just talking to Bruce Boudreau a couple of seconds ago and sharing some of my favorite draft floor stories and some of my favorite visuals are watching you talk to other general managers. You’re someone who is, was always very active on the draft floor.

I believe there was a big trade with Vancouver, that I, the details are sort of foggy. I’m sure you can jog my memory on that, that you pulled off. I can still remember, one of my favorite bits of audio is hearing you talk to the late Brian Murray about, you know, taking Nazem Kadri and like, those behind-the-scenes looks.

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Like you’re always someone that seemed, that really enjoyed being on the floor at the draft. Let’s start there before we get to the decentralization. Safe to say you felt very much at home on the floor of the draft Burky.”

Burke: “Yeah, I made two big deals on the floor. Two huge deals on the floor. Two of the biggest in the history of the league on the floor. I think it’s a really important place and a lot of business gets done there. I think the drama of being on the floor and having the kids families walk up after they’re picked and put on their hat and their sweater. I think that drama is great.

I know this is a losing cause here. I know that when Elliott reports an overwhelming majority, so they’re decentralized the draft.

They’re going to ruin the greatest spectacle that exists in pro hockey. You look at all the drafts. No one ever watches the NBA draft and say, ‘Gee I wish we did it like that.’ No one ever watches the NFL draft and says, ‘geez, I wish we do like that.’

Our draft is special. It’s unique and amazing. And we’re gonna go away from it. I know that but I think it’s really stupid.

Marek: “What are the things that I always like. Like I’ve tried to look at this from a number of different perspectives, and you know, I’ll tell you what, the one that I keep coming back to is the players in their families.

Like sure this is a big moment for a franchise. A big moment for scouts. A big moment for general managers. A big moment for you know, rights holders, broadcasting, etc, etc, etc. I keep coming back to the players and their families and saying to myself, you know, if I’m in either position, either the father or the player, and I’m either walking up myself to shake the hand of the general manager who just drafted me, or I’m watching my son do that and shake the hand of the team that’s about to help them take the next step in his hockey career. That’s real special. Like to me like that handshake. I don’t know maybe I’m too overly romantic about the whole thing Burky, but that handshake means a lot. Like I really love that moment of the draft.

It’s not going to be anywhere close to the same. You mean, you’ve been on that stage. You welcome kids to organizations. Do you have a thought or two or can you share a story or a thought on what that moment is like?

Burke: “No, you’re right. I don’t have to add anything. You’re right. And we’re taking that away. So the kids will still stand up. They’ll still hug his mom and dad, but it won’t be the same. It won’t be in front of 19,000 people. Won’t be the same at all.

And I look at it and it’s not just the first round which is obvious. Kid gets up, puts on the sweater, grabs that hat which I hate. I hate hats. But they, the normal routine, they’ll still follow some kind of routine like that. It’s like that in the second and seventh rounds. A seventh-rounder gets picked, the kids their with his family. They go nuts. The seventh round, sixth round, fifth round.

So, there’s a magic to it. You can’t duplicate or replicate, and they won’t and I think it’s a huge mistake. I know it’s happening. I’m happy to be in a minority when I think I’m right. And I think I’m right on this.

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And also, the detail that goes into the draft where you’re on the floor, working on deals, talking to people right (??) on the side. A lot of the work that goes into the draft, it’s impossible to do remotely and they’re going to suffer from that too.

Both the big deals l did, you’re alluding to the Sedin twins and Chris Potter in ’93. Those both happened on the floor. On the floor.