No love lost between GMs Burke, Gillis

The feud between the general managers of the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs hasn't filtered down to the dressing rooms yet.
The welcome mat may not be rolled out for Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke Saturday in Vancouver. ((Darren Calabres/Canadian Press))

The feud between the general managers of the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs hasn't filtered down to the dressing rooms yet.

But the scene at GM Place will be intense if Canucks general manager Mike Gillis and his Leafs counterpart Brian Burke catch a glimpse of each other prior to game time on Saturday.

The two men don't like each other and their relationship only soured further when Gillis twice filed tampering charges against the Leafs in the past six months.

Toronto coach Ron Wilson was nabbed with a $10,000 US fine for blabbing on the radio in late June about his team's interest in Daniel and Henrik Sedin if they made it to free agency a few days later.

The other incident occurred last month, when the in-house Leafs TV aired a documentary on the 2009 NHL entry draft in Montreal. As part of the piece, Burke speculated that Canucks had offered defenceman Kevin Bieksa, forward Alex Burrows and their first-round selection for the second-overall pick, held by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The segment was pulled off the air, and for this misstep, the Leafs were slapped on the wrist with a warning.

Burke was bitter that Gillis didn't notify him before or at the same time of contacting the league. We also should mention that another player in this soap opera is Burke's right-hand man in Toronto, senior vice-president David Nonis. He preceded Gillis as the Canucks GM and Nonis has no love lost for the organization. Burke, of course, was in the Vancouver general manager's chair before Nonis.

There are no plans for Burke and Gillis to meet for a make-up session before or after Saturday's game.

In fact, the chances of the two running into each other in the press box became remote when Burke decided to rent a private box in Vancouver to lodge his family and friends.

Pivotal tilt 

This is a crucial game for both teams.

With their massive 14-game stint away from Vancouver to accommodate the Winter Olympics looming, the Canucks haven't exactly responded to the pressure of getting off to a good start. They are 4-5-0 and want to avoid becoming the league's laughing stock by allowing the Leafs (0-6-1) their first win.

Right now, the Leafs hold the title as the league's laughing stock. They have set a club record by beginning the season with seven losses in a row, the first defeat was in overtime to the rival Montreal Canadiens.

The pressure on them continues to mount and once they get through the Canucks game they will be pleased to travel to the non-traditional hockey markets in Anaheim and Dallas for two games.

Presumably, the Leafs eventually will snap their dreadful streak this season. The kicker is that before we get too drenched in Olympic spirit, the NHL schedule makers should be given accolades for their tremendous foresight because the first game of the Canucks lengthy road trip will be against the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, when all eyes will be focused on Gillis and Burke again and this revived rivalry.