Sunday, 25 September 2011

Named Proudly

There are a lot of stories in the hockey world today, particularly if you want to talk about suspensions and the iron fist that Brendan Shanahan is showing, but a much better story came out of a Quebec town today. The image to the left is the new arena in Stanstead, Quebec, a town of approximately 3000 people. I don't usually have a lot of information about towns who open new arenas, but this one is special because it was built with one man in mind. Ladies and gentlemen, the Pat Burns Arena is now open.

Ten months after the legendary NHL coach passed away from cancer, the Pat Burns Arena was officially opened for business today, and it really speaks to how loved the former police officer was in Quebec. The former Canadiens coach is the only man in NHL history to have won the Jack Adams Trophy with three different teams. His passion and fire drove the Canadiens, Leafs, Bruins, and Devils to higher levels than talent alone would have got them, and he knew the game well. Pat Burns passed away at the age of 58 on November 19, 2010.

The Pat Burns Arena seats a total of 400 people - 300 seated and 100 standing - for a very intimate setting. The $9 million facility saw the federal and Quebec governments chip in approximately $6 million while the city of Stanstead raised approximately $3 million through donations to pay for the new facility. The arena has an NHL-sized ice surface, nine fully-functional change rooms, a work-out arena for players, and all the amenities to help pay for the business of running an arena. In short, the Pat Burns Arena is a gorgeous addition to the community of Stanstead.

"It's an emotional day for me today," Line Burns, Pat Burns' widow, said to CTV. "He was so involved with young kids and had the wellness of kids at heart. It's a good day."

Former Canadiens players Guy Carbonneau, Patrice Brisebois and Dave Morisette, who were all coached by Pat Burns, took to the ice for the inauguration ceremony as the Canadiens players squared off against the local Stanstead players. Transport Minister Denis Lebel was also in attendance amongst the many dignitaries who attended the inauguration of the facility.

"I think it was a special moment and it's completely normal that I was asked to be here today," Guy Carbonneau said to the Toronto Sun. "There was no doubt in my soul that I would be here."

While the arena wasn't built before Pat Burns passed on, the dedication of this arena to him and the memory of him is a very touching honour. Pat Burns loved the game of hockey, but he loved teaching others about the game of hockey more. He was an inspiration to many players and personnel with which he was associated, and he gave his heart and soul every time he stepped behind the bench.

Here's hoping this great facility in Quebec can live up to the name it is named for: the late Pat Burns.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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