At this rate, FIN could be the next casualty.
Rumblings leaked out today that long time head trainer Mike Burnstein had been relieved of his duties, according to an article published in the Vancouver Province by Canucks beat writer Jason Botchford.
Born in Hamilton, ONT, Burnstein landed a dream position in 1987 as a 16-year old kid when Team Canada was playing in the Canada Cup inside the Copps Coliseum. Burnstein happened to be in the right place at the time and was fortunate enough to get a gig as the stick/towel/water boy for star studded Canadian lineup the featured the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Paul Coffey. It wouldn't be the final time Burnstein would be witnessing such elite Canadian hockey talent live first hand.
As a kid, Burnstein would hang around the rink-- known as the common term "rink rat" -- and watched his older brother's team practise. The goaltender of the team quickly picked up on this inquisitive young fellow and realized that he could be a perfect little handyman to take care of the all of the meticulous and imperative tasks for the team -- modifying helmets, sharpening skates, tapping guys up, preparing the water bottles, working on sticks or anything else equipment related. Burnstein instantly became a valuable member of the team and developed a deep passion for this side of the game.
Burnstein saw the writing on the wall that he could make a great living career in this industry, so he focused on the medical aspect of it and made a wise decision by enrolling into Sheridan College.
After landing an internship with the Hamilton Canucks -- the Canucks AHL squad that only lasted from 1992-1994 -- Burnstein became the lead trainer for the Canucks minor league affiliate. The Hamilton Canucks folded in 1994, and that's when Burnstein managed to luck out and catch his big break. Burnstein was hired by the big club and headed out West as a 24-year-old, as the team was fresh off the Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers in the 1994 Stanley Cup final.
"Three-quarters of the team was older than me," Burnstein told The Hamilton Spector's Scott Radley in this 2013 article.
Burnstein saw the 1994 team struggle and eventually crumble down when Mike Keenan took over in 1997 after Pat Quinn and Tom Renney were fired. Those years of early mornings, conflicts between the trainers, players and the coaching staff, and all those unexpected injuries put Burnstein in a tough spot on whether he should remove player x from the game or keep him in the action allowed Burnstein to find his identity in the dressing room.
"I’m a bearer of bad news nine times out of 10," Burnstein joked when he told Radley about how players would try to hide from Mike when they saw him coming.
Courtesy of the Vancouver Canucks
"To do an Olympics in Canada in your city was a pretty great experience," Burnstein said.
There could be a few reasons as to why Canucks management feels the need to cut ties with members of their hockey operations and training staff. The first being that it certainly wasn't the smoothest year for initial diagnosis of Canucks injures; Zack Kassian, Brad Richardson and Ryan Miller all generated a significant amount of curiosity from the fans and media as to what was really up with their respective injuries. Was there a potential riff between one of the players, or player's agents with Burnstein or a member of the Canucks coaching staff, team doctors or management? It's definitely possible -- just think back to the whole Cody Hodgson misdiagnosed back situation (oddly enough, Kassian suffered from a bad back this past season). A second and highly more likely scenario is that Franseco Aquilini is making significant financial cuts to his staff as it's widely anticipated that the Canucks will miss out on the playoffs next season and Aquilini will lose out on any playoff revenue, not to mention season ticket reneawels and merchandise by trading away fan favourite and likeable personalities in Eddie Lack, Kevin Bieksa and Zack Kassian. 20 years of Mike Burnstein adds up financially, and this makes a ton of sense when you consider that Eric Crawford, Laurence Gillman and Lorne Henning were let go yesterday.