“Powerful Headliners Burke and May Announced For  ‘Off The Leash Luncheon’”

                                                By P. J. Kennedy

            Assertive Calgary Flames’ president of hockey operations Brian Burke and former hard-nosed player and current Buffalo Sabre broadcaster Brad May will be the featured speakers at the eighth annual  “Off The Leash Luncheon” benefitting the University of Saskatchewan Men’s Hockey Team on Thursday, the 3rd of  November. A portion of the profits will also go toward the “Movember Campaign” to fight cancer.

            The flamboyant Burke’s credentials include a university hockey career performing as a forward in the NCAA with  Providence College (1973-1977) where he was named team captain in his final year. Although he did play in the American Hockey League for a brief time (1976-78), his impact on hockey has been primarily as an off-ice participant. After receiving a law degree from Harvard in 1981, he was a player agent before taking on the role of director of hockey operations with the Vancouver Canucks from 1987-92.   The New England-born, Edina, Minnesota-raised Burke served as general manager of the Hartford Whalers in 1992-93, vice president and director of hockey operations for the NHL (1993-98), and general manager with Vancouver from 1998 to 2004 before becoming general manager with Anaheim Mighty Ducks (2005-2008) with whom he captured the Stanley Cup in 2006-07. His tenure as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs extended from 2008 until 2013 when he returned to Anaheim as a scout. He has held his current position as head man in Calgary since 2013.

           The outspoken hockey executive also has been general manager of Team USA for the 2010 Olympics, director of player personnel for Team USA for the 2014 Olympics, and senior advisor for the American team at the  World Cup of Hockey this year. He has been an owner of the Chilliwack Bruins in the Western Hockey League and, as a dual American-Canadian citizen, he serves as a member of the board of directors for Rugby Canada—a sport he himself played. 

            The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran has said of Burke that he is “a pain in the butt for reporters [and] a godsend for reporters. But there’s one thing Burke could never be accused of being: quiet” (10 May 2015).  Never shy to speak his mind on matters concerning  hockey and the teams and players with whom he has worked, Brian Burke has long been a “good quote” for the media and a strong voice within the inner circles of the NHL.  Yet throughout the years he has used his high profile to support a number of community activities beyond hockey.

A father of six children, he lost his son Brendan in a car accident.  To honour Brendan, who was gay, Brian Burke and his son Patrick launched the “You Can Play” project in 2012 which seeks to end homophobia in sports. Building on the substantial success of this venture, he has continued to promote various LGBT programmes as well as to encourage public support for police services (he was named honorary police chief  of Toronto in 2012), Easter Seals, and the military veterans’ Wounded Warrior project. He has been an active patron for  various hospital, homeless people’s, children’s, mental health, and conservation initiatives.

Brian Burke brings to the “Off the Leash Luncheon” a lifetime of hockey and non-hockey experiences which he will share with attendees.

Brad “May Day” May  will bring to the Luncheon his own lifetime of experiences as a broadcaster/analyst with Rogers Sportsnet  and the Buffalo Sabres and as a former NHL “tough guy” who accumulated 2248 penalty minutes in 1041 games over 22 seasons.  Potting 127 goals and adding 161 assists for 288 points, the imposing native of Toronto performed with Buffalo, Vancouver, Phoenix, Colorado, Anaheim, Toronto, and Detroit between 1991 and 2010. He also captured gold with Canada’s World Junior Team in 1991.

A first round pick (14th overall) of the Sabres in the 1990 draft, May’s career included winning the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 when Brian Burke was his general manager. Later, when Burke took the reins of Toronto, one of the general manager’s first trades was to get Brad May to add to the toughness of the Leafs.

May and his wife Brigitte have two children. Beyond his family, community service is a substantial part of Brad’s life.  In 2011 he participated with former Canadian pairs champion Anabelle Langlois  in the “Battle of the Blades” with his designated charity “Autism Speaks Canada,” an organization for which subsequently he has done other charity work.  He is an active participant in the Brad May Celebrity Hockey Classic and other Ontario celebrity hockey events to raise money for children with physical disabilities through Easter Seals Ontario. “May Day” also has supported events such as “Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer”  and promoted support for Edmonton’s  Stollery Children’s Hospital.

The former American Hockey League broadcaster for CBC Sports is now the television analyst for Buffalo Sabres’ broadcasts where he has combined successfully his solid on-air presence with  his straightforward and experience-tempered comments. May will definitely add a strong dimension to this year’s “Off the Leash Luncheon.” 

            Everyone is welcome to this major fundraiser for Huskie Men’s Hockey. A mainstay of the event is  funnyman Kelly Taylor who once again will serve as emcee. Prairieland Park will be the venue on Thursday, 3 November 2016 with doors opening at 11:00 and the programme beginning  at 11:30. Individual tickets are $125. and “Friends of the Dogs”  sponsorship packages which include a full table, are $1250. Tickets and sponsorships may be purchased through PICATIC at: http://www.picatic.com/offtheleashluncheon2016                                                                     

 

 

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