Almost two months to the day after false rumors of his demise began to surface, legendary coach Pat Burns succumbed to complications due to lung cancer.
It has been almost a week since his passing and the NHL community is still numbed by the news though not unexpected certainly, not welcome either.
Professional hockey lost a number of things with Burns' passing, not the least of which was one of the few remaining members of the "old guard" type of coaches.
Those coaches who wore their hearts on their sleeves everyday and were as passionate about their teams as their fans were.
Former Canadiens bench boss Jean Perron who not only preceded Burns in Montreal, but also worked with him at a local radio station
“What hit me most was his sense of humour, which you didn't’t usually see on the bench or even when he was talking on the radio,”
Former player and Maple Leafs legend Wendel Clark described Burns as a tough father figure to all the players while speaking with CTV News, he also added "outside the game, away from the rink, in the summertime, if you ran into him as a player, he was a totally different person. That was the Pat who was the friend to the players"
Doug Gilmour, who played under Burns in Toronto ans was a long time good friend of Burns, was understandably devastated by the news, only managing to utter a few emotional words when first contacted in regards to his friends passing.
“I just heard — I can’t talk about it right now,” he told the Toronto Sun, “It’s such a sad sad day.”
Gilmour also gave Burns alot credit in the past for his success as a player,
“......for me, it all started with Pat (Burns). I don’t know what it was about him, but he had this way of looking at me, he intimidated me without even saying a word. He’d just stare at me and I knew what he was saying. I had to be better. We just had this thing. He knew how to push. He worked for me. I worked for him.”
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello had this to say regarding Burns,
"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."
There is so much more that can be said, or written about Pat Burns, he was obviously a great coach, having won more than 500 games in his soon to be hall of fame career Burns was a former cop who commanded the same respect then as he did behind an NHL hockey bench.
Burns had even endeared himself to members of the Hell's Angels Motor Cycle Club, the actual nature of the relationship has been widely scrutinized and contemplated by a number of people but the whole ordeal eventually went away with Burns appearing to have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time on occasion.
No matter how the term that had previously adorned the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room got there, or who thought up the slogan, "The Passion That Unites Us All" is likely the most apt way to describe a man that meant so many things to so many people in so many walks of life.