NHL brass tell Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke to end public feud

NEW YORK – The NHL has warned feuding general managers Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke that they need to end their public dispute or face significant fines.

The warning for Edmonton’s Lowe and Anaheim’s Burke came Monday during a conference call with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and executive vice-president Colin Campbell.

“We felt for a host of reasons it was important to bring the parties together and make it clear to both organizations that public comments disparaging the other were bad for the business and would no longer be tolerated,” Daly told The Canadian Press.

When reached by e-mail Monday, Burke declined comment while an Oilers spokesman said the team considered the matter closed and would not have any comment.

Burke criticism’s of Lowe began last July after the Oilers made a US$21.25-million, five-year offer sheet to restricted free agent Dustin Penner and the Ducks did not match it. Burke has repeatedly blamed Lowe and the Penner offer sheet for spiralling salaries on young restricted free agents.

“You go right now from entry-level to what used to be the third contract, thanks to two offer sheets from Kevin Lowe,” Burke told the Los Angeles Times again last week.

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Lowe finally shot back at Burke last Friday during an interview that included some stinging comments about the Anahiem GM on Edmonton radio station The Team 1260.

He also said he’d be willing to continue the verbal sparring with Burke.

“I mean, if he wants to debate what our offer sheet did to them or to the salaries, any time,” Lowe told the radio station. “The reality is, Rick Nash’s contract a number of years ago, (Patrice) Bergeron’s and (Ilya) Kovalchuk’s; that sets the standard – that’s been going on for decades. I’m sick and tired of it. I know everybody in hockey is.”

The Oilers made two offer sheets, which are contract offers to restricted free agents, last summer.

Lowe’s offer sheet to Penner was the first accepted deal since Tampa Bay Lightning centre Chris Gratton signed a $16.5-million, five-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997.