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

                                                By P. J. Kennedy

            Assertive Calgary Flames’ president of hockey operations Brian Burke and newly named director of player safety for the NHL George Parros 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.

During his nine year NHL career, George Parros was better known for his fisticuffs than his finesse around the net as he brought his hard-nosed approach to the game with Anaheim, Los Angeles, Colorado, Florida, and Montreal.  A member of the Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks team in 2007, the tough winger potted only 18 goals in 474 regular season games,  but accumulated a hefty 1,092 in penalty minutes earning his reputation as an enforcer on every team for which he played. In September, the NHL named the Princeton graduate a director of player safety, working with Stephane Quintal, Patrick Burke, Damian Echevarrieta, and Chris Pronger. Quintal, senior vice president of player safety, was pleased to have Parros as part of the team overseeing player safety. He views the NHL veteran as one who “was widely known as a physical player…[who] will add another unique perspective to our group, and the fact that he only recently [2014] retired means that he has a keen understanding of today’s game.” Active throughout his career with charity exhibition games and auctioning off his moustache for various charities, he is known for his participation with the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation assisting inner city youth.  George Parros 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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