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Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke has been under fire after a difficult season with the struggling NHL club. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke has been under fire after a difficult season with the struggling NHL club. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Roy MacGregor

The polarizing world of Toronto Maple Leafs boss Brian Burke Add to ...

Such public debate only serves to make Burke more recognizable. He is asked late in the conversation if he craves the spotlight, if he enjoys – even needs – the attention. And for the first time in a very long conversation, he is speechless.

“I am trying to think of the right answer,” he says after a very long pause. “And I guess the right answer is that I accept it.

“The one part that I like is that it allows you to throw some real heavy weight into charity work. I'm very proud of the fact that I have made a difference in every NHL city in which I've worked. I've used the office of general manager to enact change. I work for Ducks Unlimited. I do work for Big Brothers and Sisters, Special Olympics, military and now Canadian Safe Schools Network ….

“I do as much as I can to make a difference where I live. I am proud to live in Toronto and I am proud to spend that time. I was brought up that way by my parents. And as long as I am GM I intend to use that office to make things better in Toronto. I feel very fortunate to have this job and to live in Toronto. I love this city. And I like the way our team is coming together.

“I have the best job in hockey – and it's the worst job in hockey. But I wouldn't trade places with anybody.”

Editor's note: Ron Wilson and Brian Burke were not college roommates. The on-line version of this story has been corrected.

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