Hockey

Angry Burke blasts fellow GM Lowe

Outspoken Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke sounded off Friday on Edmonton's offer sheet to forward Dustin Penner, calling the move "gutless."

Outspoken Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke sounded off Friday on Edmonton's offer sheet to forward Dustin Penner, calling the move "gutless."

Burke had pointed words for Oilers GM Kevin Lowe.

"Edmonton has offered a mostly inflated salary for a player, and I think it's an act of desperation for a general manager who is fighting to keep his job," he said.

The comments came a day after Lowe signed Penner —a 24-year-old restricted free agent whoscored 29 goals last season—to a five-year, $21.25-million US offer sheet.

Burke said he wasn't upset that the Oilers made a play forPenner,but rather took exception to the potential inflationary effects of offering a$4.25-million annual salary toa player who made the league minimum of $450,000 last season.

"I have no problem with offer sheets," Burke said, noting they are part of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement.

"If you can identify a player and pay him appropriately and make him an offer, that's fine. At some point, the deals you make, the offers you extend, whether the team matches it or not, impacts all 30 teams, including your own."

The Stanley Cup champion Ducks have until Thursday to either match the offer or accept a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a third-round pick from Edmonton as compensation.

The Oilers' offer sheet to Penner was the second issued by the team in the last three weeks. On July 6, Lowe put in a seven-year, $50-million offer to Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek.

Sabres GM Darcy Regier matched the generous offer, but not before criticizing Lowe for ignoring Buffalo'sindications that they would not let Vanek walk.

"I suppose you have to assume they thought we were bluffing," Regier said. "What this amounted to was an exercise in futility."

Unlike the Sabres, the Ducks don't have much room under the salary cap. They are around $5 million below the $50.3 million maximum, although a team is allowed to be 10 percent over the salary cap until Oct. 1.

The Ducks are waiting for defenceman Scott Niedermayer and winger Teemu Selanne to decide whether they will retire or play next season.

With files from the Canadian Press