How do you write when one of the most prominent faces and greatest leaders of the modern era passes before his time?
Pat Burns was a hero of mine from his first season behind the Leafs bench, the first coach I can remember. He is the only one I remember being excited to watch on Saturday nights and was a huge reason for Leafs runs in the 90’s.
And Kerry Fraser I will never forgive you.
This man’s man turned Doug Gilmour into one of the most dangerous players of the decade, a feat no other coach could do. Then he taught Mats Sundin how to lead and succeed in the NHL, leaving the Leafs with a franchise player for the next decade.
His ability to inspire play (and fight Barry Melrose) is something Toronto hasn’t had since he left and desperately needs. Pat’s passion for the game, his team and his players is unrivaled by anyone behind the bench today leaving a hole in the game that no one is able to fill.
The fact he is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame is a monumental disgrace and insult and every member of the HHOF committee should be ashamed as well fired and slapped. Three Jack Adams trophies as best coach (Montreal, Toronto, Boston), more than anyone else in the history of the game, even the great Scotty Bowman. Combine this with team performance, 14th overall in wins in a shortened career, and you have one of the greatest coaches in the league’s history. Putting him in now won’t be the same; you are supposed to honour the man directly, not posthumously, to show him one last time how much he meant to the cities he coached in, the players he led and the sport as a whole.
He will be in there, even if I have to sneak in after hours and place his headshot right next to Roger Neilson, enshrined forever in lasting hockey memory.
Mr. Burns, thank you for everything; as champion of the sport you will never be forgotten.