A Greater Good

Remember when Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke were looking for a place to meet so they could physically punch each other out after months of verbal sparring? That was almost 15 years ago, although in some ways it seems like yesterday when Lowe and Burke, two guys who had been friends, came off the rails.

You might recall Burke, then the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, got so sour at Lowe, then GM of the Edmonton Oilers, for putting an offer sheet on Dustin Penner, he spent months giving it to Lowe every chance he got. Lowe finally got pissed off enough to challenge Burke to a fight in a radio interview. That prompted Burke to tell Lowe he should meet him in a barn in Maine so they could settle things the old-fashioned way. Sure.

“That really pissed me off, because I knew the player wasn’t worth the money,” Burke recalled on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast. “And I knew I had Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf coming, and now I gotta pay them something north of there. So, I was really sour at him. He didn’t ’t even call me to tell me that he put in an offer sheet, the league called me.

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“I called Glen Sather and said, ‘That bastard challenged me to a fight on the radio, I’ve never been challenged to a fight before and not taken the challenge’,” So he’s fighting me, I said ’I’m going to be at the Holiday Inn in Lake Placid on August 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I’ll rent a barn, I’ll kick his ass, I’ll drive him to the hospital and we get this behind us.”

Well, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman got wind of what was going on and told Lowe and Burke there wasn’t going to be a fistfight or there would be trouble – and suspensions. Cooler heads prevailed, which is something when you consider the passionate hair-triggers of Lowe and Burke. It should also be said that Burke’s son Brendan, who died in a car accident in 2010, urged his dad and Lowe to mend fences and played a significant role in putting the feud in the rear-view mirror. Rebuilding the friendship began there.


Oiler special supplement Kevin Lowe , Doug Weight , Ryan Smyth. Tom Poti, Janne Niinimma Rem Murray , Todd Marchant, Bill Ranford, Ted Green and Craig MacTavish KEVIN LOWE driving the bus with other team players behind him / 990923.SOU EDMONTON OILERS SEP 30, 1999 PAGE I1 CREDIT: GREGORY SOUTHAM

That hatchet long buried, Lowe and Burke will square off again, rightly moderated by Sather, as part of second The Toast of the Town fundraiser Thursday to raise funds for the Cure Cancer Foundation in support of the Cross Cancer Institute. It’ll be held at the DoubleTree Hilton at Mayfield. No barn this time.

In the first event two years ago, former Oilers’ equipment man Barrie Stafford was the honored guest, raising about $130,000 for the CCF. This time, Lowe is the guest of honor. The hope this year, with Thursday’s event sold out of 300 tickets, is fundraising will approach $200,000 toward research and cell therapies for multiple forms of cancer.

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You can read where the funds raised at this event, one of several affiliate events for the CCF and the CCI – The World’s Longest Hockey and Baseball games staged by Dr. Brent Saik are two such affiliated fundraisers — will go here.

There’s a heavyweight guest list for this one. Ron MacLean, Burke and Sather are part of the program. There’ll be one hot stove with both sides of the Battle of Alberta represented with Craig Simpson, Paul Coffey and Glenn Anderson getting into it with Tim Hunter of the Calgary Flames. In the second hot stove, Lowe and Burke will have at it with Sather in the middle.

Craig MacTavish will be in the mix and there’ll be a lot of other members of the Edmonton Oilers Alumni there – Coffey, Anderson, Al Hamilton, Ron Low, Mike Krushelnyski and Louie DeBrusk, to name just a few of over 20 attending. There’ll be a VIP reception, a dinner and online and in-person auctions as well, the whole nine yards. While the event is sold out, people who would like to donate to support the research and trials being done can do that here.


I’m guessing it won’t take Burke long to give Lowe the business about how long it took him to get inducted in the HHOF and the barn date that never was is guaranteed to be a hot topic as well. When you’ve got guys like MacTavish, Sather and Low in the mix, the chirps will be epic.

The bottom line, the object of this exercise Thursday, is to keep making strides in the battle against cancer and that takes funds for research and testing. That’s something – no matter who you’d have bet on when all that talk about throwing down in a barn was going on years ago — we can all relate to. Thanks for reading.

Previously by Robin Brownlee