Saturday, November 20, 2010

RIP Pat Burns

Sad news for the NHL yesterday. Former NHL head coach and Stanley Cup champion Pat Burns died after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. He was 58 years old.

Burns coached the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Devils during his 14 year coaching career. He guided the Bruins to two playoff appearances, led the Maple Leafs to the conference finals in 1992 and 1993, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Canadiens, and finally won the Stanley Cup in his first season with the Devils in 2003, defeating Anaheim in seven games.

Known by NHL fans for his blue-collar toughness, Burns is the only coach in NHL history to win the Jack Adams award three times, and with three different teams no less. (Montreal in 1989, Toronto in 1993 and Boston in 1998.) Burns finished his career with a record of 501-353-165 (.573) in 1,019 games including 11 playoff appearances.

Burns was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004 and liver cancer in 2005, forcing him to retire. He thought he'd made a complete recovery, only to have the cancer spread to his lungs in 2009. The cancer was deemed incurable and he decided to forgo any further treatment.

Burns himself stated in April of this year that he was not expecting to live much longer. We all knew the odds were that he would not live out this year, but it does not make his death any less sad. A hockey arena at Stanstead College in Quebec is being built in his honor. It should be completed in 2011. Thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Line, his son Jason, his daughter Maureen and the rest of his family and friends

RIP Pat Burns. Best of luck in that giant hockey rink in the sky. You're Hall of Fame in our books.

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