When Brian Burke Attacks: What Would You Do?

Brian Burke Cease and Desist Lawyer LetterLast Friday, I did what I've done every Friday for quite some time. I hosted an Open Mike entry where folks can comment about whatever's on their mind.

I've maintained this blog for over ten years, and in that time I've received 47348 comments on 11744 entries. 69 of those comments were on this particular Open Mike entry, and one has resulted in a rather threatening cease and desist letter from a lawyer representing Brian Burke.

The anonymous comment reiterated a rumour that's been all over the place this past month. I myself have heard this Brian Burke rumour from many different sources, but have never written about it here because I don't believe it to be true. In fact, I wrote this comment on January 18, 2013 at 18:14 in response:

The rumour about Burke is everywhere, but that doesn't make it true. It's not fair to Burke or Hazel Mae to treat such scandalous speculation as fact.

I've already removed the offending comment. I'm simply not in the mood to be bullied by lawyers over an anonymous comment on my blog. The cease and desist letter, however, didn't just ask me to remove the comment, it wanted me to pass on all information I have "concerning the individual noted above who published or republished this story, and of any other individual who has published or republished the whole of the “news story”" on TorontoMike.com. That's something I'm not willing to do.

I am many things, but I am not a lawyer. I'm going to reproduce the letter in its entirety below in the hopes you'll share with me your opinion and advice. Perhaps one of you is a lawyer or knows a lawyer? Here's the letter I received earlier today.

We are legal counsel for Mr. Brian Burke.  Mr. Burke is extremely concerned about a defamatory “story” being posted about him in various places to the effect that he is the father of Hazel Mae’s child.  The “story” also contains many other defamatory statements about Mr. Burke.

It has come to our attention that the “story” was posted in response to your “Mid-January Open Mike” blog on January 18, 2013 at 20:14 by “Anonymous”.

While you referred to the “story” as scandalous speculation, it remains posted on your web site.  We trust you are aware of the legal consequences of the publication and re-publication of the postings.  Please immediately remove this posting from your web site, and any similar postings on your web site which publish or republish the defamatory statements noted above in whole, or in part, or in substance.

If you do not remove the posting we have identified and any other similar postings from your web site, we have instructions to commence legal proceedings to protect Mr. Burke’s reputation and interests.

Please also provide us with any and all information you have concerning the individual noted above who published or republished this story, and of any other individual who has published or republished the whole of the “news story” on your web site.  Mr. Burke wishes to discover the author of the story.  If you do not provide us with such information, we have instructions to commence legal proceedings in order to obtain a court order that you provide that information to us and pay Mr. Burke’s costs of having to obtain the court’s assistance.

We look forward to hearing from you immediately.

H. David Edinger
Heenan Blaikie LLP
Lawyers
2200 – 1055 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 2E9

I've yet to reply back...


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Comments (53)

Anonymous

Hello Legal Council for Brian Burke. Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Anonymous.

Anonymous the hacking collective wishes to clarify that this "Anonymous" individual had nothing to do with the Anonymous Hacking Collective. I just asked everyone in my Mom's basement. They all said no. We're way to busy taking out rouge governments, taunting the FBI or kicking the ass of the Westboro Baptist Church to be bothered with anything to do with hockey (especially anything related to the Leafs). To our knowledge the only hackers that like the Leafs are those lamers on Team Intricate. The only #root they ever had was the one from a small pine tree in their front yard that died. They burned in it a fireplace.

Knowledge is Free

We are Anonymous
We are Legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect Us.

January 23, 2013 / 14:41

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

On a side note, that may be somewhat relevant, the offending comment I've removed was merely a copy and paste from a posting here: http://gtamc.com/showthread.php?117180-Brian-Burke-Fired-the-real-reason

January 23, 2013 / 14:55

Liz

Hey Mike,

You know you've made it when you attract the attention of a d-bag lawyer! What a world we live in, eh?

January 23, 2013 / 15:23

Lorne

First, obviously, no one here's a lawyer, or if they are, they aren't anyone here's lawyer. That being said, the usual response seems to be:

1) Give your lawyer $100 to write a FOAD letter telling the other lawfirm to get stuffed, stop bullying, and if they think they have a legal case, to actually use the courts.

2) Keep in mind that it cost almost nothing for BB's lawyers to send out any threats they want. They're boilerplate, have no legal binding, and are literally just threats.

3) BUT if they get any sort of pushback, they have to go into full legal mode. And THAT costs money. Lots of money. It will cost them hundreds of dollars just to READ that letter. If they want to proceed-- court filings, paying interns, looking at books, etc-- easily runs a "high class" firm like his tens of thousands of dollars.

4) Your comment is one of many, many, many. There's no way they are going to start court filings of TonsOfPeople at tens of thousands of dollars each.

5) Even if so, they have no right to be given any identifying information about anyone. This is why instead of sending them a polite "no" they get a legaleese "FOAD". I don't care if they said "please". They're lawyers, and they know full damn well what it takes to get ANY service provider to hand over customer information.

6) In the end, all they've done is make matters worse for themselves. What was once a passing comment that would have been overlooked, if not ignored completely, has now become-- well, three Twitter posts and a full blog entry (with comments) for all to see. It's now an event. I had no idea about anything about this rumor (I missed Friday's Open Mike. Sue me =)). Now I know everything there is to know about this rumor. It's in big, blazing letters on the front page of a blog with a massive audience.

Who didn't know about it before.

Who can all Google.

Good job, BB lawyers.

January 23, 2013 / 15:27

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

It turns out the offending comment is essentially a modern chain letter... passed along everywhere and reproduced on forums and blogs throughout the country.

http://forums.redflagdeals.com/leafs-talk-miller-time-181059/1938-print/

http://www.torontogolfnuts.com/showthread.php?p=1053073

January 23, 2013 / 15:28

Derrick

@ Liz, I don't think it's fair to characterize Mr. Edinger as a "d-bag". He's simply representing the interests of his client, or doing his job.

Mike, I would suggest investing in some legal advice on this issue. And then let us all know what the decision is. I think we'd all be interested in knowing whether or not you are told that you have to give up information concerning "Anonymous".

January 23, 2013 / 15:30

Blind Dave

What about submitting a question to an online legal forum or calling a legal hotline?

January 23, 2013 / 15:41

Lorne

@Derrick: He wrote a threatening, quasi-legal letter to force a content owner to remove content as a single strike in a hopeless battle. He knows full well he overstepped his legal boundaries asking for personally identifiable information without a court order.

D-bag is appropriate

January 23, 2013 / 15:41

Lorne

Toronto Mike,

In your online Blog forum "Toronto Mike.Com" you knowingly and willingly allowed a duplicate post to occur. Are you are aware, since the second post is a duplicate of the first, you are willfully performing copyright infringement.

Immediately remove from the entire The Internets all "stories" and references to this infringing material, and prepare yourself to pay restitution to all damaged parties.

Sincerely, the imaginary legal team of Lorne.

January 23, 2013 / 15:43

519 Rob

Mike, your google ad on the left right now is for Shulman Law Firm.
Love the irony!

Maybe you should give'm a call?

January 23, 2013 / 15:49


Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@519 Rob

Now everybody needs to click that link so I can afford them!

January 23, 2013 / 15:51

Derrick

Lorne,

That letter alone probably cost BB $250. And if the rumours are as wide spread as everyone says they are, then there are plenty of other letters like this out there, so this little letter writing campaign will cost BB serveral thousands of dollars.

You should note that there are details in the letter which are specific to the chat, so someone spend some time researching what was said. So it isn't a boilerplat letter which cost the law firm "nothing".

I am not a lawyer, but my suggestion (for what it is worth) is to get one, know your rights, know what it will cost you to exercise them (cause "rights" are never free), and make an informed decision.

January 23, 2013 / 15:54

Lorne

@Derrick "I am not a lawyer, but my suggestion (for what it is worth) is to get one, know your rights, know what it will cost you to exercise them (cause "rights" are never free), and make an informed decision."

Agreed!

January 23, 2013 / 15:57

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I'm calling in Rosie for an emergency recording of Toronto Mike'd Episode 22.

January 23, 2013 / 16:01

IMHO

This is bullshit. I hate seeing letter like this. I hate that Brian Burke would do this because of a stupid rumour posted as a comment on a blogger's blog.

My respect for Burke just plummetted. Why go after the independent blogger - and Leaf fan to boot.

Oh, and Burkie... time to read up on the Streisand effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

January 23, 2013 / 16:13

Peter

You know what's awesome about this?
You removed the offending post, but posted the letter from BB's lawyer which gives details about the "story".
Now the story (true or not) lives on, in a letter drafted by Brian Burke's legal team.
Classic.

January 23, 2013 / 16:19

Speysidephil

Agree mike you should probably contact a lawyer, there has to be someone on this blog that knows a lawyer who would help you out.
Failing that, then I am suggesting to all your readers that we start a fund to help you out.

January 23, 2013 / 16:21

Derrick

It's easy for us to dump on BB and his lawyer for this threatening letter, but if what is being rumoured about him and Hazel was being discussed about me, I'm quite certain I would react in the same way.

I would want to know who was spreading this garbage, making unfounded acqusitions about me, ruining my reputation, and ruining the reputation of someone I know.

I would want to know who was saying this and I would want want them to pay.

And someone may say "just ignore it", but BB is a well known figure in this city, and that type of rumour doesn't just go away. If you don't attack it and hard, then people will wonder why you kept silent about it when everyone was talking about it.

January 23, 2013 / 17:02


Tom

Funny that the letter does not in any way deny that the Burke and Hazel Mae affair is true

January 23, 2013 / 17:34

CQ

A basic law letter might not be the biggest issue here. Mike's been treated very nicely by a number of the various Samsung's and Ford Canada's (and MLSE). His posting of this new entry, about that entry, shortly after the other entry (Jan. 7th personalized putdown of a TV host) could give many of them a pause for concern.
For example: if Ford Canada extends a future party invite etc., is MLSE (Bell/Rogers) going to stiff Ford Cda. when it is the next time to schedule a prime Stanley Cup or a World Series ad spot - versus GM or Toyota wanting the key placement?

January 23, 2013 / 18:46

Corey

I may have removed the comment in question, but ignore the rest of the letter completely.

January 23, 2013 / 19:03

Rick C in Oakville

Sorry if I helped draw the fire to you Mike by attaching a link to the same posting.
Not sure if my club was served also.
I think they got the response they wanted , by having you pull it down. Unfortunately for them the rumour is every where, collateral damage for being a controversial public figure.
Liz is spot on with her comment.

January 23, 2013 / 19:13



Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Rosie and I just recorded episode 22 of my podcast and we start off with a discussion about this situation.

I'll post it first thing tomorrow morning. I hope you'll all listen.

January 23, 2013 / 19:25

Rick C in Oakville

Looking forward to here the episode Mike, keep your chin up, these things can put you off your game.

January 23, 2013 / 19:39

Rob

Aburd.

Lawyers just trying to scare you into submission with likely no legal ground to do anything.

January 23, 2013 / 20:00

Anonymous

Mike. Has Burke and his current wife split up.......

January 23, 2013 / 21:09

Anonymous

WOW. BB is runnibg scared. LOL

January 23, 2013 / 21:16

Gump

As someone whose family has several Bay Street lawyers (unfortunately don't practice in this area), my advise would be to get out as soon as possible. This could make your life hell-ish in the short term and since this blog is not your primary concern, it is best not to take a stand and suffer. In the legal profession, what is 'right' doesn't always rule the day.

January 23, 2013 / 22:25

LLB TO

I am not a lawyer, but my brother is. I ran this by him and he told me its something to take very seriously - BB might have a serious claim against you if these rumours about him and that girl are not true (and I don't think they are). Isn't she married and just had a baby - her husband must be some pissed off at you too bro.

January 23, 2013 / 23:50

Bill Derlago

Maybe if Burke didn't trade two first rounders for Kessel he would still be around and the rumour wouldn't have started. Or if he would have got a goalie not from the marlies. So really, his fault.

January 24, 2013 / 00:39

Bill Derlago

Maybe if Burke didn't trade two first rounders for Kessel he would still be around and the rumour wouldn't have started. Or if he would have got a goalie not from the marlies. So really, his fault.

January 24, 2013 / 00:39

John Doe

LLB TO, what claim would he have? The individual running this blog removed the suspect post immediately.

Further to that, the comment posted on this blog is available publicly on dozens of other sites. In the Canadian legal system he would first have to prove the allegations were not true then sue for defamation.

Rock 101 in Vancouver has exactly the same information posted on their Facebook page.

January 24, 2013 / 01:06

LLB TO

Had the content been removed and a clarifying retraction placed, that would make it difficult for a Judge to deliver a harsh judgement. But by inviting and instigating further defamation, it shows no remorse and it is worse than just removing the content. All BB would have to do is prove that Hazel Mae's kid isn't his and then he could sue and likely win a judgement. That was a pretty vicious rumour about a guy that just got fired - and about a new mother and her husband and baby. A judge would sympathize with them. I don't think you can write or publish stuff like that on the Internet anymore. Everything is traceable and if somebody takes the time, anyone can be tracked down.

January 24, 2013 / 02:12

Corey

@LLB - you really think Burke is going to open up this circus to the media by getting a paternity test? You're being ridiculous. Assuming it's not true, do you think Hazel Mae and her husband are just going to oblige Burke's request for a DNA test? Mike, ignore this crap - as John Doe said, he's going to have to prove defamation before going after the original author and/or anyone who republished it.

January 24, 2013 / 06:45

Corey

By the way, the very first comment from Irvine was a hoot. Irv, thought you weren't allowed to post anymore.

January 24, 2013 / 08:02

Anonymous

If he sues for libel or slander, he does not have to prove he's right. The onus is on the defendant to prove he was correct in publishing whatever he published. In this case, Burke doesn't have to prove anything, Mike does.

January 24, 2013 / 08:20

Anonymous

I know as fact Burke got separated from his wife because of another woman...who knows if it's Mae. It's just interesting that the strongly-worded letter sent to Toronto Mike didn't once deny the rumor.

January 24, 2013 / 09:25

James Edgar

Wow I really have to visit more often! I had not heard of the rumour prior to this post but a quick google search showed mr it's everywhere. In fact there is gossip about Hazel everywhere. Not nice stuff at all :(

run it by a Lawyer Mike just to be safe.

January 24, 2013 / 10:20

Leafs Fan

Unbelievable. Bully tactic for $200, Alex.

January 24, 2013 / 10:27

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Update:

I replied to the lawyer letting him know I've removed the offending comment. He thanked me for doing so.

I just spoke at lengths about this on my podcast which you can hear here: http://www.torontomike.com/2013/01/toronto_miked_podcast_episode_22.html

Moments ago, I appeared on the Humble and Fred Podcast which will be available later this afternoon. It may or may not also appear on some Astral stations, including Newstalk 1010.

I got a little legal advice from an actual lawyer this morning who suggested I didn't have to remove the offending comment. Still, I don't want to host unfounded and hurtful information about anyone and was more than happy to remove the comment. Let the record show that I've never written about this Brian Burke rumour and tell everything who will listen that I don't believe it to be true.

That's where we're at this Thursday, January 24 at 11am EST. I'll update everyone if anything changes.

January 24, 2013 / 10:58

Anon

Sure, you didn't write about it but you certainly stoked the fire with a few tweets. I really really don't have a problem with it (I find the story hilarious) but I don't know about the whole "it was just a post in the comments" angle. Again, I don't find it offensive in the slightest and enjoy the site.

January 24, 2013 / 22:55

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Anon

I agree webmasters are responsible for comments hosted on their site. I deleted the offending comment right away.

January 24, 2013 / 23:04

Yellow Book

Is this not the same B. Burke who called up the CBC on Don Cherry to try and get him fired because of what he said about Burke on the air. The CBC pretty well laughed at Burke.

January 25, 2013 / 07:06

Michael

To be honest, by lawyering up, Brian Burke has only done himself a disservice by lending credibility to the rumour. If it were completely unfounded, there is really no need to send out cease and desist letters, since the rumour would die out naturally after a few weeks. It's amazing how sensible people in show business have learned to simply ignore any comments posted online about themselves.

Then again, Brian Burke was never really good at much of anything: terrible broadcaster when he worked at the CBC, terrible disciplinarian when he worked as the head of hockey operations at the NHL, and a terrible manager when he worked with the Canucks, Leafs, and Ducks. He's also the guy who tried to have Don Cherry fired from the CBC for the on-air expression of his personal opinion, and he's also the guy who swore live on TSN during the daytime hours when the host asked him a question he didn't feel like answering.

TorontoMike, Brian Burke is a putz, plain and simple. I wouldn't have honoured the request to remove the offending material, because quite frankly, the request is asinine and most likely doesn't have a legal leg to stand on whatsoever.

February 22, 2013 / 11:44

Tim

I think this could set a bad precedent and close down and silence the ONLY avenue of free speech on the planet. I appreciate Brian's concerns but seriously he is willing to place us all at risk of censorship and silencing for his little issue? Now tell me that's not well thought out? I wouldn't give his Lawyers anything if I were you. Let them pay for it, a lot!

April 26, 2013 / 22:48

RicoErico

Saturday April 27th 6am
This story is now everywhere.

April 27, 2013 / 06:33

LLB TO

Looks like Burkie wasn't joking around. I asked my brother and he thinks you are in the clear Mike, given your cooperation and your comments. That was the right thing to do. I'm not sure why there are so many people angry at Burkie or why they would want to make up such horrible lies - the dude's son died (and he kept working) and the guy got fired - unceremoniously tossed out after giving us a playoff team after a decade. The guy had class and made Toronto hockey have a bit more flair and interesting. The guy had six kids became a Harvard lawyer, won a Stanley Cup and dedicated himself to charities. He has a big mouth and he's a tough guy - but that's hockey. Gotta hand it to him, he's a brave dude. Go Leafs Go!!!.... and thanks for the squad that got us into the playoffs Burkie!!

April 28, 2013 / 20:45

POOONANI

LOOOL FKIN THAT HAZEL MAE EH? YEAH RETARD CLOWN BRIAN BURKE.

April 29, 2013 / 23:34

Richard Evans

I got here by accident. But I think even bothering to post/repost the original story seems a bit desperate. Making up lies/passing on lies about people who have actual lives and live them so we can tear them down for being more successful? C'mon. If you want to do that, become Hollywood Mike or London Mike. You're giving this city a bad rep by being a gossip. That's really all you and your fans are. A bunch of hens clucking out of desperation for attention from a rooster.

July 3, 2013 / 02:01

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