The man to the left looks nothing like he once did, and it is with great sadness that I report that Pat Burns, former NHL coach, has finally succumbed to the cancer that his body fought so valiantly for the last few years. HBIC wishes his family and friends all the best in this difficult time, and I want nothing more than for the pain of losing a great man, husband, brother, father, and son to be eased. Pat Burns was a living legend in terms of how great he was behind an NHL bench, and he truly deserves to rest in peace after his long battle with a relentless foe. I just want to post a few images and some comments from NHL icons about the great Pat Burns as a memory of his legacy.
"Next to my parents he's the most influential person in my hockey career. He's the one that gave me a chance and the one that taught me how to play so I could last in the NHL," said former Montreal Canadien Mike Keane to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press.
"What I learned from Pat gave me the foundation that kept me in hockey. He was instrumental," said Keane. "John Ferguson Jr. called me earlier. It hasn't been a very good day. It was an honour to play for him and then to call him a friend."
"He believed in me when not a lot of people did. Everything I have today, I owe to Pat Burns."
"I just heard — I can’t talk about it right now," former Maple Leaf Doug Gilmour told Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun, his voice cracking with emotion. "It’s such a sad sad day."
"He definitely was the best coach I had in my career," former Maple Leafs goaltender Felix Potvin said to Bill Beacon and Neil Stevens of the Hamilton Spectator. "He was hard, but honest."
"Pat was really emotional and really a great coach," former Boston Bruin Ray Bourque said to NESN. "I never had a better coach who taught players how to play without the puck and in your end. He was so knowledgeable about the defensive side of the puck and really taught a lot of young guys how to play defense."
"Being an 18-year-old player, it’s tough when you don’t always play because you’re used to playing all the time," former Boston Bruin Joe Thornton said to David Pollak of the Mercury News. "Back then you might not have understood why that was happening, but in the big picture, he was a smart hockey man. He’d dealt with a lot of good, young hockey players before. And you look back now and there was definitely a method to his madness.
"He definitely made me grow as a player and as a person," Thornton added, "and I definitely owe him a lot from the days back then to now."
"Pat was a close friend to us all, while dedicating his life to his family and to the game of hockey. He has been part of our family here in New Jersey for eight years. Today, the hockey world has lost a great friend and ambassador. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Line, and the entire Burns family," Devils president Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team.
"Just as they will remember Pat for his success as a coach, hockey fans also will remember his humour, his honesty, his humanity and his courage," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "As it mourns the loss of an outstanding contributor to the game, the National Hockey League sends heartfelt condolences to Pat's family and friends."
"He met his final and most difficult battle with that same tough and gritty spirit," Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper said in a statement. "Canada has lost a sports legend today, but Pat Burns' legacy will live on in the players and coaches whose careers he touched, as well as the young people who will skate in the Pat Burns Arena for years to come. He will not soon be forgotten."
There isn't much more that can be said that hasn't already been said by his peers and colleagues. But there is one thing that needs to be added: rest in peace, Mr. Burns.
You'll always have utmost respect and admiration from HBIC for your abilities, dedication, and success as a coach. However, you'll always be one of the best when looking at your achievements and generosity as a Canadian.
Until next time, raise your sticks high in honour of Mr. Burns.