Indeed, when Gretzky describes Burke as good in the room, that doesn't mean that Burke is always quiet or, for that matter, civil. For the last four seasons—during which Phoenix hasn't won a playoff series—the Coyotes' two dominant personalities have been Keith Tkachuk, who was the captain until he was traded to the Blues last month, and alternate captain Jeremy Roenick. Those high-scoring, highly paid forwards were accustomed to receiving the red carpet treatment in the Valley of the Sun and weren't used to being criticized. Burke has had no problem upbraiding them or anyone else, whether behind closed doors or in print.
His recent extension changed the calculus in the dressing room. Suddenly Burke was the star with security, and Tkachuk and Roenick were facing uncertainty. Roenick, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season, said he was insulted by Phoenix's initial offer to him last month—less than $6 million a year—and spoke of the "dark cloud" hovering over him. One's heart went out to the lad. Tkachuk, whose salary this year is $8.3 million, might be looking for yet another home at the end of next season, when his megabucks contract expires.
It's Burke, for a change, who knows where he'll be. He called Leslie from Boston when his contract was finalized. "She said, 'What a great thing to have happen after everything we've been through.' It was kind of a sweet moment we shared."
A sweet moment made sweeter by something that was inserted into the contract at Burke's request: a no-trade clause.