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Photo Credit: Vancouver Canucks/ Twitter

How Brian Burke prevented Markus Naslund from asking for a trade

Love him or hate him, Brian Burke has done plenty of good for the Vancouver Canucks.

The former NHL GM is currently an analyst for Sportsnet and told an interesting story about Markus Naslund in his first year as GM of the Canucks.

Burke became Vancouver’s GM in 1998 and made several key moves that aided the franchise, including the drafting of the Sedin twins. Burke watched the Swedish twins at the World Juniors in Winnipeg ahead of the 1999 NHL Draft and was impressed. Through a series of trades with the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers, Burke drafted both Sedin twins at second and third overall that year in Boston.

Burke joined Sportsnet 650 the Fan this week to detail an additional move he made that significantly helped the franchise.

Brian Burke prevented Markus Naslund from asking for a trade out of Vancouver.

The situation occurred when Mike Keenan was head coach of the team. Keenan began serving as Vancouver’s bench boss in 1997 but only lasted 14 months before he was replaced by Marc Crawford at the All-Star Break in 1999.

Naslund had scored 22 goals in his first full season in Vancouver, but struggled to produce the following year. Naslund finished with just 14 goals in a struggling 1997-98 season for Vancouver. He did rebound with 36 goals the following year, but the Canucks continued to struggle, finishing last in the Western Conference with 58 points.

Burke details how Naslund was going to ask for a trade out of Vancouver that season and how he stopped him from even getting to that point.

“I had a tough situation with Markus Naslund. Once a player asks for a trade, in my mind, once he says he doesn’t wanna put on the uniform anymore, I get rid of him. But I did have Markus Naslund come in my office. He was gonna ask for a trade. I said ‘Don’t say it. Do not say what you’re about to say. Because you’re about to ask for a trade and then I will trade you. What I’d like you to do is shut your mouth and lets’ talk about this.’ And that’s what we did.”

Burke further explained how he handled the situation and got Naslund back on track.

“Mike Keenan was the coach and he was there until the All-Star break. He didn’t like Markus, Markus didn’t like him. Markus was playing very poorly and I said to Markus, ‘Look, this coach is gonna be gone long before you are.’ But I said ‘You’re stealing money right now. You’re not working hard enough, you’re not scoring goals, you’re not making anything happen – you’re just stealing money, so you’re just as guilty as the coaches, so don’t ask me for a trade. You gotta put your game together here.’ And he did. Straightened everything out and turned into a great player.”

Quite an interesting tidbit from the former GM, who spent six years as GM of the Canucks. Naslund became a 40-goal-scorer just two years later and concluded his NHL career with six 30-plus goal seasons in Vancouver.

Burke certainly made some mistakes during his reign in Vancouver, but it’s hard not to appreciate what he did to prevent the club from trading away one of their all-time greats early in his career.



  • Kanuckhotep

    If you want warm and fuzzy Brian Burke is not your man. However if you want a straight shooter who is hardly subliminal or obtuse in terms of getting his message across then Burke is your man. This article is a great human interest story, the kind on which hockey is built and fun to read about too. Personal anecdotes like the one outlined here are a lot more interesting than zone entries and shot share IMO and like him or not Brian Burke was the best GM in Canucks history. If I was some billionaire and had my own NHL team Burke would be my first choice to run the show. Just sayin’.

    • Adamemnon

      Love behind-the-scenes anecdotes like this, we’re agreed on that. But why does intelligent commentary using advanced metrics that illuminate a deeper level of the game, have to be mutually exclusive with fun to read anecdotes that give us a peak behind the scenes, ie. illuminating a deeper level of another aspect of the game? This is what I love about this site. Keep up the good work guys.

      That said, I hope I’m not subtracting too much from the positivity I feel toward the content here by bringing up two constructive criticisms:

      The first is minor: let’s is the contractive form of “let us” as in “let us talk about this…” Not “lets’.”

      Second, I’m probably writing this on the wrong article, but I have to voice my concern with the seemingly increasing amount of political commentary being woven into Jackson’s articles. This isn’t a stick to your lane comment, or anything like that. I’m a firm believer in free speech and Jackson can write whatever he wants. I’m just concerned that if the metaphors and asides about socialism vs. capitalism, or how evil billionaires are continue, they will cause people like me to stop reading the site. I totally understand that if you feel passionate about your values, you want to trumpet them. But another blog or some other outlet would, in my opinion, be more appropriate. It’s starting to affect my enjoyment of the site and I think it would be a real shame if people like myself stopped coming to the site for the excellent commentary, because of a relatively supercilious issue like that.

  • apr

    Is there anyone more full of himself than Burke? Seriously, he’s trump before he’s Trump. Everyone in the league “has worked for him”. He’d beat the crap out of a pretty fit mid age “Kevin Lowe”. Every decision is a gut decision, like two first for Kessel; Komasarik; Phaneuf.

    Yes, he drafted the Sedins in the worst draft in the past 25 years. He just had to trade another first round pick (in a better draft year) and Bryan McCabe (a stud young right shot D) to get another pick. He assembled a dominant team lead by Naslund, but refused, absolutely refused to upgrade Cloutier, let alone get a reasonable backup to the inevitable Cloutier playoff meltdown.

    Burke is an absolute clown. And I can’t wait for Edmonton to hire him.

    • Boywonder

      While I don’t really disagree with your statement, I think he did very well by Vancouver. It always bothers me though that people forget what it was like in those Cloutier years, the league was so thin oon goalies like RHD today. Every goalie was getting a ton of money and Cloutier was probably the best we could get considering what was out there (or not) Hence why the Luongo trade was so big and why they had to sign him to that terrible contract. Worst decision of all time though? Making Phaneuf Captain. I grew up in Red Deer and was in HS when Dion was a rebel and damn, he was a huge ass hole, never captain material.

      • Nuck16

        I don’t like Burkie…but I get why he stuck with Cloutier. This was the book on Cloutier…it would take him a while to get his game at the beginning of the season, like 5-10 games before he got dialled in. Once that happened though he was one of the best goalies in the league….until of course he would get injured, which happened too often…then after each injury it would take him 5-10 games before he was once again one of the best goalies in the league.
        I recall him winning the NHL player of the month award after he ran the table on a very tough 5 game metro division road trip.

  • KearnsScoredOnHimself

    Remember that time Blowhard Burkie shouted “do you know how easy it is to move this franchise? All it takes is a phone call”

    I mailed him a quarter.

  • TheRealPB

    It’d be easier to digest stories like that if they didn’t come from such a place of self-promotion. I’m pretty sure there were other factors for Naslund and he seems like he MIGHT have a mind of his own in all of this. Burke will always be on the positive side of the ledger because he pulled off the magic to get the Sedins but the rest of his self-congratulation is always too much to take.

  • Nuck16

    I can’t stay mad Burkie…hmmm…actually, on 2nd thought yes I can.
    I believe you were consulted on the severity of punishment on the Horton hit in the playoffs, since Campbell had recused himself…and you gleefully suggested a suspension for the remainder of the playoffs…when we were already down 2 or 3 defensemen with injury…
    No conflict of interest there…considering your hate of Vancouver ownership at the time.

  • Fred-65

    I do remember this. Mike Gillis was Naslund’s agent. He too approached the Canucks about moving Nslund along. He too was upset about Keenan. IMHO personalities aside which some can’t stomach he did bring in Franchise players like the Sedins, he kept Naslund and he dealt with Bure’s hold out ( ending with Jovanovski ) all in all I’d give the guy an -A. Golaies were not low lying fruit at that time and he did try Felix Potvin. He was IMO a fundamental part on Vcr success. He never won the trophies that Gillis did but he did win a SC with the Ducks. In short he wasn’t anchor

  • rediiis

    Would Brian Burke trade Markstrom? This is probably the strongest position the Canucks have. It would take balls to make this move, but you could really get an asset or two.