Reaction Roundup: the hockey world pays tribute to former Leafs coach Pat Burns

After succumbing to cancer more than a week ago, Pat Burns, the legendary hockey coach of over 1,000 games and of the less-legendary Maple Leafs from 1992 to 1996, is being laid to rest in Montreal today. Having coached in Montreal, Boston and New Jersey, as well as Toronto, there are plenty of people memorializing him. Here, a small sample of tributes.

• Rosie DiManno leads off for the Toronto Star from last week, saying, “He will no doubt be remembered poignantly this evening in Montreal, where it all began, city of his birth, unforgiving hockey capital of his NHL bench-boss career. Fittingly, the Maple Leafs—his beloved Leafs, the team closest to his heart—will be there, too, facing off against the Canadiens.”

• David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail remembers Burns with a second-hand quote that—no disrespect intended—made us think of an old Itchy and Scratchy cartoon: “Pat Burns looks like every Irish cop who ever walked a beat in Boston.” Burns was, in fact, a native of Montreal, and retired to Sherbrooke, Quebec.

• The Toronto Sun has a great roundup of memories from some of Burns’s former players, including a few of his famous temper. Hal Gill summed it up by saying, “Some of his rants the next day and after practice were legendary. Ask anyone who played for him. They’re not fit for anyone’s ears outside the locker room. He’d always grab something to throw, too.”

• No less than Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean remembers flying to Anaheim in 2003 to find Burns pacing on the hotel lawn—at 5:30 in the morning. MacLean describes Burns’s motivational speaking style: “He spoke French to guys like Patty Roy, Felix Potvin and Martin Brodeur, and he spoke police officer to the rest.” It’s a description that Hal Gill would probably agree with.

• Yesterday, the Star ran an interview with Dave Ellett, who played with “Burnsie” as a Leaf and Bruin, who said, “I don’t know if ‘scare’ is the right word but he certainly got players’ attention quickly.” A lot of Burns’s former players mentioned a soft side that the public didn’t often get to see, but Ellett tells of how the two of them even shared hobbies: “A lot of times, we talked non-hockey stuff. We were both into boating. He loved boating. Boating and motorcycles.”

• At the funeral today, Raymond Bourque said, “His bark sometimes was a little louder than his bite, but he could actually bark pretty loud. But he could also have the other side that was understanding and supportive. He was fun to play for.”

John MacLean, the current New Jersey coach, “thinks it’s fitting that the entire team attends the service,” and so all the Devils are in Montreal today to pay their respects to the man who led them to a Stanley Cup win in 2003.

John Madden, who played for Burns as a Devil, could barely suppress his tears when he heard the news. Quivering, he told the L.A. Times, “It was just a great time we had in Jersey, and he was probably the best coach I ever had.”

• Over at ESPN, E.J. Hradek bemoans how Burns was left off the honourees for the Hockey Hall of Fame: “[Burns] had the credentials for election—a Stanley Cup, 501 regular-season wins and three Jack Adams Awards (won with three different teams). So, there was really no reason not to elect him.”

• New York Times bloggers Jeff Z. Klein and Stu Hackel call attention to a different kind of tribute: “Shortly after his death at age 58, his name was the top trending topic on Twitter in Canada… But Burns had a wide impact elsewhere, at least as measured among Twitter users. Six hours after Burns’s death was reported, his name was trending ninth in the United States, and second in Boston, fifth in both New York and Philadelphia, and seventh in Los Angeles.”

• Hockey royalty gathers for Pat Burns funeral [Globe and Mail]Pat Burns, 58: A man’s man with a tender heart [Toronto Star] • A cop, a coach, that’s all Pat Burns was [Globe and Mail] • Habs share favourite Pat Burns stories [Toronto Sun] • Remembering Pat on tonight’s HNIC [CBC Sports] • Dave Ellett remembers Pat Burns [Toronto Star] • Devils notes: Honoring Par Burns [Northjersey]Pat Burns left an indelible mark [L]Hall of Fame botched Pat Burns call [ESPN]In death, Burns is again a Top Twitter Topic [New York Times]


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