Former NHL coaching icon Pat Burns has lost his battle with lung cancer and has passed away at the tender young age of 58. One of the more colorful coaches of the hockey universe, Pat coached for 14 years covering over 1,000 games. Having coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, Pat was known for his stern ways, his tough and demanding style, as well as his colorful comments.
Known mostly though for his defensive style of play, Burns won a Stanley Cup as coach of the New Jersey Devils in 2003, and won a record setting three Jack Adams Awards as NHL coach of the year. With three different teams mind you.
It was shortly after his Stanley Cup winning season that Burns was diagnosed with colon cancer, and in 2005 the cancer had spread to his liver. The competitor that he was, Burns fought off the illnesses only to have lung cancer develop in 2009, that was diagnosed as terminal. Dealing with this third bought while still acting as a scout for the Devils, Burns decided that he no longer would undergo treatment and had come to grips with his fate. Something I’m not sure many of us would be able to do.
As the news of his condition worsened earlier this year, there was a major push to have him inducted into the NHL Hall Of Fame in the Builders section. The reason was that Pat didn’t have much time left, and it would have been a perfect and wonderful last accomplishment during his lifetime to be alive when he was inducted. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect scenario, and a better person to have enshrined.
Some might say that Burns may not have deserved the induction and that it was only being “pushed” due to his illness and the diagnosis. Well if wining over 500 games, a Stanley Cup, and three coach of the year awards with three different teams isn’t enough, then I’m not sure what is.
In his memory Stanstead College in Quebec, a private boarding school, announced earlier in March of this year that it is building an arena honoring Pat’s career, and is expected to be completed sometime in 2011. Pat knew that he’d most likely not be around to see the finished product, but was humbled and appreciative nonetheless. Pat talks about the new arena here.
While it’s too late for the NHL to right it’s wrong by not inducting Pat into the Hall of Fame this summer, I would certainly hope that they come to their senses and take care of it in the summer of 2011.
It’s the right thing to do.
As I prepare this post the universe of Twitter is pouring their hearts out, myself included with our thoughts and prayers to Pat and his family. You can tell that he was a man that was respected and loved at the same time by many people. Most of who never even met him. That makes him a very special person.
Rest in peace Pat. Thank you for all the memories and for all you did for the game of hockey. You will be missed.
Our condolences go to the entire Burns family.
Thank you for reading.