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.”