It’s a sad week in the hockey world; former coach of the Montreal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and Stanley Cup Champion, Pat Burns has passed away from cancer after a long battle with the disease.
Pat Burns was one of the most respected, decorated, and colourful coaches in the history of the NHL. He started his career in Montreal where he lead Patrick Roy and the Habs to a Stanley Cup bearth in which they lost to the dreaded Calgary Flames in 1989. After a near cup win and a Jack Adams Trophy for the best coach in the NHL, Burn retired from the Montreal Canadians organization in 1992 only to only to find himself behind the glorious Maple Leaf blue bench in Toronto for the 1992-1993 season where he would take the Leafs to a near original six match up Stanley Cup final with the Montreal Canadians only to be beaten by Gretzky and the Los Angels Kings in the Conference final. During Burn’s tenure with the Leafs he would take them to the conference final twice and win yet another Jack Adams Trophy.
After the Leafs, Burns moved on to another original six team: the Boston Bruins. In Boston he would win another Jack Adams Trophy and help groom Joe Thornton as a young a star. Pat Burns last stop was in New Jersey, where he would finally win hockey’s most coveted prize in 2003: the Stanley Cup. Burns would lead the Devils for one more season to a second place overall finish but a first round exit in the playoffs.
After the 2003-2004 season, Burns revealed that he had prostate cancer, and that he was stepping down as head coach of the New Jersey Devils. Burns would eventually beat the cancer only to find out that he also had liver cancer. Being the warrior that he was, Burns would beat cancer one more time. Just when Burns thought he was in the clear, he was once again diagnosed with cancer, this time an incurable form of lung cancer. I also lost my father to this same form of lung cancer. It pains me to write about such a topic, but like my father, Burns was a great man, so I thought this would be the best way to honor them both. The only sad thing in Burns’ case is that they did not induct him into the hockey hall of fame this year when they had the chance, there is no doubt that he will make it into the hall of fame, it is just a matter of time. Pat Burns is still the only coach to win the Jack Adams Trophy with 3 different teams, all original six teams. There is an ice rink at Stanstead College being built in his name. It is due to be completed in 2011. Pat Burns – April, 4 1958 – November, 19 2010, RIP.