Tribute To Pat Burns

In case you haven’t heard, Pat Burns has passed away at the young age of 58.

I remember 2 moments from the renaissance Maple Leafs of the 90’s. The first was the hiring of Cliff Fletcher and the second the hiring of Pat Burns. I am not sure 2 off ice guys have ever been more responsible for the rebirth of a dormant sports franchise (and if I am wrong I don’t really care) then those two.

Shortly after that, the Habs were coming to town and I got invited down to Maple Leaf Gardens to visit with John LeClair, he a University of Vermont Alum, me a current student. While I was waiting to interview him ( I was in town for winter break) Burns stuck his head out the leafs door, took one look at me (standing alone) and asked if anyone had helped me. Quite stunned, I told him I was waiting to talk to Leclair and that I was going to write a story for the University of Vermont Cynic (student newspaper) on the local boy who had done good. Burns looked at me, stuck out his hand- and said, I’m Pat Burns, I coached John before, would you like a couple of quotes. There I was, a HUGE Leafs fan, a college kid and there was Pat Burns, going out of his way to help a kid out. That’s the first and only time I met him. He certainly left an impression on me.

I hope those on the NHL Hall of Fame selection committee are especially proud of themselves this evening. Each who didn’t vote to elect Pat should do the right thing and resign.

RIP Pat. I hope you have a Harley up there.

The Maple Leafs issued the following statements from Brian Burke and Cliff Fletcher:

Brian Burke:”On behalf of the Maple Leafs, I want to convey our deepest sympathies to Pat’s family, and the long list of his close friends throughout the hockey community. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of grief.”

Cliff Fletcher: “Pat forged a tremendous bond, not only with a very good veteran team in Toronto, but also with Leafs fans everywhere. He commanded respect from the players and the team quickly had great success while taking on the identity of the head coach. The Leafs’ rise at the time was a testament to Pat’s strength, toughness and determination. Hiring him 18 years ago was easily my best decision in hockey, and we developed a great friendship that I will always treasure. Pat will be greatly missed.”


pats garage Pictures, Images and Photos

About the Author
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike S
Mike S
November 19, 2010 9:55 pm

Very sad……….he was a great coach and underneath the gruff exterior he was a great person.

I followed his coaching career closely because I lived in Montreal when he coached there and I moved to Toronto just before he started coaching here…………and he coached my favourite team (Boston) later in his career

It was great to see him win the Cup in 2003 with the Devils but the best team that he coached might have been the 1989 Habs team that lost in the Cup Final to Calgary

Ami Angelwings
November 20, 2010 5:23 am

It was so sad to hear that he passed away 🙁 I was driving when the FAN broke the news and the tribute they had was very fitting but also brought back my memories of him and made it all the more poignant. I hope he passed in peace with his loved ones. 🙂

Rest In Peace Pat Burns

Chris F.
Chris F.
November 20, 2010 7:16 am

R.I.P. to a great coach and an even greater man. I remember his time in Toronto very fondly. He won wherever he went and it’s a darn shame that the hockey hall of fame couldn’t get him in there this year.

Now i’m sure they’ll do it next year but it’ll come off looking like an “oops we should’ve done this last year” type of thing.

Rest In Peace Pat.

Ami Angelwings
November 20, 2010 7:51 am

@Chris F. : Srsly… they know he’s getting in eventually, almost everybody in the NHL circles admits that he WILL get in.. making him wait arbitrarily is ridic and a disgrace >:O We all know he’ll get in eventually… but b/c of the stupid politics and horse trading and the usual unwritten “code” crap, it’s now too late for him to be in the hall when he could have been alive to see it >:| And we’ll never even know why he didn’t get put in because of how closed the whole HHOF process is >:|

November 20, 2010 11:37 am

HHOF really blew it….unbelievable to be honest…

In my opinion, Burns was the model coach….He knew the X’s and O’s as well as anyone but what separated him from most was that he could be tough on his team while at the same time, command genuine respect and adoration…his players would play for him…they wanted to win for him. A mark of a true leader. That’s what is needed at the NHL level.

November 20, 2010 11:58 am

Very sad to hear about Burns’ passing. From all of the stories that I have heard and read about him (both now and at the time of his Mark Twain-like demise a couple of months ago), he seemed to be the type of person that could get along with just about anybody. Those types of people are hard to find these days. The sport of hockey is lesser for his loss. My condolences to his family.

Again Ami, I couldn’t agree more with you about his absence from the HHOF induction ceremonies this month…a complete travesty. I’m disappointed that more HHOF selectors haven’t been made to publicly respond with their defence of this decision.

November 20, 2010 12:03 pm

BTW, TSM…great story about Burns.

Lt67…your comments reminded me of a story told about Burns yesterday (I can’t remember who relayed it…think it was Brophy on Sportsnet) where NJ Devils players knew they would be in trouble during the season after the Stanley Cup win because Burns was known for coddling players/teams during tough periods, but then really putting the pedal to the metal when teams were playing well. 🙂

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x