RIP Pat Burns 1952-2010
Not everyday do we get to write a piece based off of personal experiences. Today, from unfortunate situations, we get that opportunity.
Pat Burns was a man who I personally grew up respecting and hating, as a fan of the fine game, altogether. I know, torn at the seams with one part of me on the love side and the other on the hate.
But as an immature fan, as I grew older my respect for Mr. Burns also increased.
I remember, because my father was a die hard (to this day) Montreal Canadiens fan, Pat Burns as one of my first memories. It was the 1988-89 season and Montreal was up to their regularity; dominating the league. Growing up a Flyers fan, you can only imagine the split within the household.
Well, it was said year in which Chris Chelios laid out Brian Propp against the boards, leaving Propp to lay lifeless on the ice with a pool of blood under his helmet and head. The next game would be the final game of the series between the Habs and Flyers, due to Montreal skating away with the series. Though the Flyers would eventually lose the game, they would get redemption on the hit that took out one of their best players at the time.
Ron Hextall made a bee line at Chris Chelios as he crossed the blue line and from that point all hell broke loose.
Jose Simoes, a writer for NHL Hot Stove has some fine memories, as well as ones of discomfort. Jose does not hide his Maple Leafs pride, and as a fan of the organization, was able to witness the coaching of Pat Burns as well. He wrote this piece on NHLHS a few months back: . His knowledge is very well respected and thus, I brought him in to collaborate with me and this is what he had to say:
In all my years following Hockey, only 2 people I could honestly say deserved to win the Stanley Cup: Ray Bourque and Pat Burns. 3 Jack Adams Trophy’s as Best Coach made him a legend in his own time. The Stanley Cup victory was the proverbial Cherry on Top. Coming to Toronto from the hated Montreal Canadiens, made Burns a tough sell initially. However, 2 deep playoff runs made it an easy transition to Fan Favourite. Not many coaches reach ”Superstar Status” thats usually reserved for the Gretzky’s, Lemieux’s, Yzerman’s, Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s of the league. Only a handful of coaches have; Herb Brooks, Scotty Bowman and Pat Burns come to mind. Two of them are in the HHoF. I can’t tell you why the third isn’t.
May 17th, 1993 is one of my most memorable Pat Burns moments. With Toronto up late in the 3rd period of Game 1 of the Clarence Campbell Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Kings, Marty McSorely caught Doug Gilmour with a questionable elbow to the head. Leafs Captain Wendel Clark, doing exactly what I feel a Captain should do, went after McSorely. What happened next is a well known scene to any Leafs fan of the time. Clark coming to the defence of a fallen teammate, Gilmour getting up and showing he’s alright by challenging the entire LA Kings bench, and Pat Burns standing on the Leafs bench yelling at Kings coach Barry Melrose. That kind of passion was the epitome of Leafs Nation at the time. The Leafs Captain, best player and Coach all taking exception to a cheap shot by the opposing team. The Holy Trinity if you will. Find me another team with a trinity as passionate about the sport as these 3 and I’ll show you a team that in some aspect was influenced by Pat Burns. He inspired passion and loyalty in all his players.
The time has arrived to say our farewells and pay our condolences to Pat Burns, and it is a sad day for not only fans of the teams he coached and of the sport in general, but also for anyone who has had there life affected by Cancer. He has twice successfully defeated Cancer. Realizing that there was no “winning” this time, Burns decided to avoid treatment and instead enjoy his remaining time with his family. He has unfortunately gotten a chance to do something that so few of us do, enjoy life and live each day as if it were our last. I’m positive that he would wish it were under different circumstances, but i’m also positive that he’s at peace with it and being surrounded by family and loved one’s has made it easier, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve saved my goodbye’s for when the time was right, and part with this.
I’m going to follow his lead and appreciate all of the little things in life. What’s the point of having nice fancy shiny things if you can’t enjoy them. I just wish he got to do it under the same circumstances I did.
There are no secrets behind Burns’ three Jack Adam awards. The man was a coach who led his troops to glory, even if it did not equate to a Stanley Cup title. Even with one cup ring to his merit, it was simply an accolade needed to complete the resume and it was achieved in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils.