Patrick Burke builds his own hockey destiny

Patrick is following in his father Brian Burke’s footsteps, doing it softly softly without the usual fanfare. When your parent happens to have won the Stanley Cup as GM of the Anaheim Ducks then inevitably you are going be hailed as “Brian Burke’s son”.

“Yes that’s the truth but my name is Patrick, not Brian, and I want to stand on my own two feet!” said Burke junior on the matter. Patrick, one of four children from Brian’s first marriage has travelled the hockey world in his twenty-five years of existence.

He learned the ropes of Canada’s sporting religion starting as a young aspiring youth and high school player, now in the current ranks of College Scout for a NHL Team.

Being immersed in the fastest game in the world, amidst the highest echelons,you cannot help catching the bug and the fever. Patrick certainly did this and is now neck deep in enthusiasm for the sport.

As a shining example, Patrick’s father Brian Burke took the right steps right from the start. After graduating from Providence Rhode Island and only playing one year in the AHL for the Maine Mariners, he then took his law degree at Harvard and never looked back.

Patrick also enrolled in a well-known sports college, Notre Dame, “The Fighting Irish”. Here he realised that his college team was not a top ranking NCAA outfit, and that playing hockey was not going to be the way to make his way through life.

Patrick commented, “Seeing so many hockey games in my life by the time I was twelve I knew I wasn’t going to be a player and so I set my sights on being a GM”.

Talking with his dad whilst Brian was making a name for himself in Vancouver, Patrick landed the job of scouting College hockey players’ aged 18 – 24 Hoping to find talent for the Canucks organization.

It was a real challenge looking at raw hockey talent aged eighteen after just entering college. You have to have perception and insight to image how a potential player will develop by the time he is twenty-five. Going on the weights, fitness and dietary programmes alongside scholastic endeavourers is guaranteed to be a real grind for any youngster.

When Patrick’s father Brian was unceremoniously dumped from the Vancouver franchise in a moment of shear madness by ORCA Bay, Brian’s right hand man Dave Nonis took over. Patrick worked another year for the Canucks scouting College Hockey for Nonis whilst reading an Irish History Degree at Notre Dame.

Realizing he had made the right decision to get an education rather than play hockey for a living like his father Patrick has not looked back. After graduating from the ” Fighting Irish ” Patrick threw his hat into the ice hockey ring with a non-descript CV to NHL clubs, applying for positions as a scout.

Philadelphia Flyers came back to him offering Patrick a position as a College Scout. “The funny thing about it”, stated Patrick, “was that I continuously got letters back from the other clubs’ Human Resources Departments of the Oh thank you but no thank you’ kind'”. Standard rejection letters, moments After Patrick’s application hit their desk, for a very a typical application letter.

When meeting some of the NHL GM’s whilst out with his father he was asked What were his post graduation plans? When Patrick explained, “I’m scouting for the Flyers”, they would immediately reply, “Why didn’t you ask us?” Without missing a beat or showing any facial reaction he would counter, “I did and you turned me down!” Many GM’s stuttered and cursed their HR Departments.

Travelling to Ireland for his second time Patrick visited his father’s Teammate from Providence, Jim Tibbetts, Team Ireland head coach. Talking with Patrick he stated that his first trip to The Emerald Green was when he was only 15 years old. Then he just could not wait to get back to be with his friends in North America

Brian had previously pledged to come to help Team Ireland, however when he realised that his club the Ducks would be coming to London to open the season in the O2 Arena against the Kings his priorities had to change.

Patrick saw his opportunity to revisit the home of his ancestors and be helpful in the development of hockey by joining the Tibbetts school of excellence. He was told, “don’t expect much here in Ireland, they (the Irish) are just learning to skate”.

Patrick was very impressed with the hockey players, though small in numbers compared to North America, and the figure skaters. With help from the Irish community in North America and people such as Brendan Shannahan and others meant that the Irish could easily develop the thirst and fever for hockey.

Spending some time with the Belfast Giants new GM Todd Kelman, whose team are going to be playing a series of games in Ireland’s new Dundalk Ice Dome this season they were both excited about the future of the sport in Ireland.

After returning to Boston, Patrick’s new home, he will then be flying straight to Vancouver to be present at his father’s inauguration to the British Columbia’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Canuck’s franchise must be having sleepless nights after Burke senior lifted the Stanley Cup after only two years with the Ducks.

Whilst in Ireland Patrick had the opportunity to discuss with European Coaches and Officials with everyone having their own opion on the growth of the NHL and possible new cities the league was looking at for future growth.

Patrick stated “The NHL league is in a dynamic phase at present and is actively examining all of its opportunities.” Others present at the Irish camp preferred the option the NHL should be contracting to stabilize their core group of teams.

The general opion amongst European coaches is that NHL organizations needs between $40 and $45 million USD per annum to ice a competitive ice hockey team that is going to compete for the Stanley Cup. Unless your city and or organization has that sort of pulling power not only from its owner but the city and or catchment area it’s drawing from, then you’re only there to make up the numbers.

Teams like Hamilton, Ontario in Canada which is a hotbed of hockey but its location is also too close to the franchises in both Buffalo and Toronto. Can the “Steeltown” Hamilton hope to sustain that suggested level of revenue income to make a perennial contender in the NHL? Winnipeg regaining an NHL franchise in the west or the far east of Canada like St John’s in New Brunswick are also considerations.

In the USA the city of Kansas in the state of that name keeps popping up in negotiations is yet another of a host of cities looking for a NHL Franchise

From the European point of view the other hot bed of hockey is here across the pond from North America. That idea is growing in strength with both NFL and NHL owners buying soccer teams in the UK. They could be the forward visionaries in their strategic planning and have more in the long-term interest for the NHL to be looking at building a European arm to the NHL.

More like that of the old days in Football where the America Football merged with the National Football league building a stronger and well founded wage capped league which is a money earner for all of it’s member Clubs were examples quote.

It was good to talk with Patrick, a dynamic young man, who certainly has some good long-term thoughts for the sport of ice hockey.

Without fail we will see Patrick Burke back in Ireland, with hopefully a host of young Irish North Americans who want the chance to represent their ancestral homeland in the new and growing Irish sport of ice hockey.

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