Players’ Own Voice podcast: Brian Burke, Tessa Virtue on their legendary careers

Player’s Own Voice podcast returns with a welcome back double-download thank you to listeners.

Anastasia Bucsis, podcast host and two-time Olympian speed skater, catches up with a guest who has a special place in her heart. Love him or hate him, very few people can touch Brian Burke’s resume. The Hockey Night analyst was president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, ran the Maple Leafs, was GM for the Ducks, the Canucks, and Hartford Whalers. He led the U.S. men’s team that took home a silver medal from the 2010 Olympics. 

Burke is a kind and charitable man with a hellacious temper. He has been called a lot of things, not all of them repeatable, even in a podcast, but Anastasia’s favourite label for Burke was ” landlord.” He hails from a big Irish family. 

“In my house there was always someone to play with, someone to read with, someone to talk to and someone to fight.” 

And on that last matter, Burke pulls no punches in his self-assessment.

“I had a horrible temper as a kid, and still do to some extent.”

Brian Burke doesn’t condone the language he would often use as a hockey executive. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Burke is a loud and proud voice against homophobia in hockey. Of his own coaching conduct and language choices back in the day, he says, ”It would appall most parents the way we talked to their sons. I was as guilty as anyone.”

Guilty then — doing the right thing now.

Next up? Anastasia welcomes Tessa Virtue to the recording studio. Half of Canada’s greatest ice dancing duo. Along with partner Scott Moir, Virtue is the most decorated figure skater in Olympic history.

Just because she is gliding from amateur glory to a dazzling professional career, doesn’t mean Virtue has forgotten the highs and lows of Olympic competition.

“No matter how you prepared you are, I don’t think you can fully anticipate a post-Olympic crash.” she says. “I didn’t realize what a heavy weight that was to carry, that Olympic pressure.”

Nowadays though, when she and Moir and the cream of figure skating aren’t performing to packed houses, Virtue has advocacy work and endorsements and campaign partnerships; almost too many to name.

Virtue is everywhere. But don’t hate her because she’s beautiful, successful and rich. Hate her because she is so busy and somehow not burned out! Actually scratch that — there are no haters when it comes to this one. People remain fascinated by the Virtue-Moir juggernaut, and Tessa struggles to explain it.

“It’s all we’ve known. its impossible to have objective perspective. When you are so in it, you are the people who understand it the least.” 

Burke and Virtue are the latest elite figures from Canadian sports to share their stories on the POV podcast, which takes an unconventional approach to sports conversations.

Like CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to Brian Burke, Tessa Virtue and all the athletes from Player’s Own Voice season one, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.

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