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Burke competing with 'people who are nuts'

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke says he's embarrassed by the "crazy money" some NHL teams are spending on players this offseason.

"I have never been more embarrassed to work in the NHL as I was
on July 1 and July 2," Burke said Wednesday, referring to
multimillion dollar deals signed during the first days of free
agency. "I know we can't support the salaries. I know that some of
the teams who have spent that money are doing it without the
financial capability to pay the money.

"I'm running my business like a business. I'm going head-to-head with people who are crazy, as far as I'm concerned.'

Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux said Tuesday he believes
the NHL should consider introducing a salary cap. Burke seems to
support that idea.

"I know one of teams that spent crazy money lost $20 million last year," Burke said.

"I want our fans and sponsors and season ticket holders to know
that we're doing this like business people. But right now we're
going head-to-head with people who are nuts, absolutely out of
their minds. I don't know how we can compete long term with that."

The Canucks announced two signings Wednesday. Goaltender Dan
Cloutier agreed to a new deal, while free agent defenseman Murray
Baron re-signed for two years.

Burke said team officials have been warned by the league not to
discuss what will happen when the current collective bargaining
agreement with the players expires in 2004.

"I can not afford the fine to talk about what the new system
should be or what it would look like," he said.