Tag Archives: Pat Burns

Pat’s Time

I worked in Hull, Quebec at the E.B. Eddy paper mill in the mid to late-1970s when Pat Burns was a local cop there.

I never met him. I just thought it was a good opening paragraph.

I’ll bet as a cop, Burns was a beauty. Tough as nails. No nonsense.  We saw how ferocious he was as a coach. Smart-ass punks would have stood no chance.

The ex-cop has now been chosen as part of the 2014 Hall of Fame gang, along with Dominik Hasek, Mike Modano, Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, and referee Bill McCreary.

Who knows why Burns wasn’t picked five or ten years ago? Maybe he’d ruffled some feathers before he passed away in 2010 from cancer.

This was a tough hombre who wouldn’t have stood for any guff from legends in their own minds who run various branches of hockey, including members of the HOF selection committee.

The bottom line is, he was a strong and successful coach who deserved to be placed in the Hall. There are plenty in there who are debatable choices, but not Pat Burns.

It was Wayne Gretzky, who owned the Hull Olympiques from 1985 to 1992, who convinced Pat to quit the beat and coach the Quebec Junior team full time. It worked out beautifully.

Of course it did. Because everything Gretzky touched back then seemed to turn to gold.

As a coach, when Pat Burns wasn’t raging, he seemed as likeable as can be in interviews, and by many accounts was popular and personable to everyone he wasn’t collaring or coaching or happened to be near when he was in a foul mood.

He admitted it was tough in Montreal with the pressure from media and fans, he didn’t always handle things in a cool and calm manner, and I’m sure at times, reporters would tread lightly after a tough loss. Would you want a pissed off Pat Burns glaring at you?

He was behind the Habs bench for just four years, his learning years as an NHL coach from 1988 to 1992, and was awarded the Jack Adams Award in 1989 for top coach in the league after taking the boys to the Cup finals before falling to the Terry Crisp-coached Calgary Flames.

(I wrote a letter to my sister in Calgary before that ’89 series had started, giving my prediction along with a little made-up series review which I titled “Pat Burns Terry to a Crisp”)

Next stop was Toronto, where he led the Buds from 1992 to ’96, and where he’d win the Adams in 1993. And from there it was four years with the Bruins (1997 to 2001),  where he’d earn a third Jack Adams Award, this one in 1998.

It sucked to see Pat Burns running the bench in Toronto and Boston. It always sucks to see a beloved Hab in those enemy uniforms.

Following Boston it was the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03 for Burns where he’d win the Stanley Cup, and then one final year after that with the Devils before being diagnosed with colon cancer.

A great career, successful almost everywhere he coached. And on Monday, November 17, 2014, eleven years after his final line change, we’ll see Pat inducted.

Late, but better late than never.


Bure Exploded


I watched the Hall of Fame announcements the other day, and I’m only just now waking up from the coma.

Bill Hay, Jim Gregory, and Pat Quinn gave us the four new names (Adam Oates, Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, and Mats Sundin), like they were giving a eulogy at a funeral. It was like everyone was dead – not just the newly-elected and still-alive players, but Hay, Gregory and Quinn too, who may or may not have been propped up with someone behind working their mouths..

It made a Catholic retreat seem like a biker bash.

Regardless, the four players deserve the honour, and I can’t help thinking how Pavel Bure would have made such a fantastic Montreal Canadien.

Bure, although he came a half dozen years or so after Guy Lafleur had left Montreal, would have been a wonderful successor to the throne. We haven’t had a true superstar since our number ten, and Bure would have fit the bill perfectly. But alas, he ended up with the Canucks, (and then the Panthers and Rangers) which was too bad for us and too bad for him.

I remember Bure during the 1989 World Junior Championship in Anchorage. He, along with linemates Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, dazzled and burned up the tournament. Bure was a sight to behold. His blinding speed, his explosiveness, his goal-scoring, all with a face that looked to be about 11 years old. And he brought all of that to the NHL.

What a Hab he would’ve been. A new gunslinger in town who played a style of hockey most Habs fans love and older ones remember from heros no longer donning skates, or dead like Bill Hay, Jim Gregory, and Pat Quinn. Bure would have brought his girlfriend at the time, Anna Kournikova, to Montreal, and I would have seen that she was comfortable while Pavel streaked down the ice and netted huge goals to the roar of the crowd.

Certain teams need certain players; Boston likes guys who give the finger to fans and noses, Philadelphia leans towards obnoxiousness and lousy goalies, and Bure, with the offence and excitement he provided, would have been a terrific fire-wagon Hab. On the ice at least. Off ice, the Russian Rocket was apparently aloof, arrogant, and selfish, which led the Vancouver Sun’s Elliot Pap to say the only way they should hang Bure’s sweater from the rafters would be if he was still in it.

But that’s beside the point. It was what he did on skates as a smallish-yet-shifty right winger, and it was plenty. Besides, Pat Burns, and then Jacques Demers, would’ve kicked his ass.



Please Give Back The Rocket’s Star

Whoever stole the Rocket’s star from outside the Forum, please give it back. Just leave it somewhere, walk away, and you won’t be de-nutted by Habs fans.

Rocket’s star in the sidewalk was glued and screwed down, so someone had to work hard to get their filthy paws on it. Where were the cops in the area at this time?

This star belongs outside the Forum for all to see. Do the right thing and have it returned.

I just hate this kind of thing. Remember when Pat Burns’ widow had mementoes ripped off from her car on the day of Pat’s funeral?

Some Returned, Some Still Missing

Twelve Stolen Jerseys Returned

The Canadian Press

Montreal police say 12 hockey jerseys stolen from the car of Pat Burns’s widow, Line, within hours of his funeral have been returned to the family.

Const. Anie Lemieux says the sweaters were found by agents from a security company and given to a member of the media.

The journalist then gave the jerseys, which were destined for a charity auction, to the late NHL coach’s family.

Burns had barely been laid to rest on Nov. 29 when thieves smashed into his widow’s SUV and stole personal belongings, including about 30 autographed jerseys.

The car was in an outdoor parking lot in Old Montreal when it was hit.

Money from the charity auction was to go to an arena to be named in Burns’s honour.

The thieves also swiped cherished family photos, Burns’s credit cards and his watch. Those items are still missing.

The thieves even made off with bedsheets from a palliative-care residence

I Count The Seconds Until This Scum Is Caught

I’ve just finished reading about someone breaking into Pat Burn’s widow’s car and stealing cherished items and I wanted to say something about this. But all I can think of is how I hope this person(s) is caught quickly and we get to line up and take turns stabbing knitting needles into his testicles. (Yes, I’m saying it’s a male. Just a gut feeling).

But I want no one from Philadelphia or Vancouver or anywhere else to equate this sorry and disgraceful act with the great city of Montreal. Scum like this can be found anywhere. This isn’t a black mark on Montreal, but it’s going to be a large black mark on this guy’s face and body when he’s caught. I’m quite confident Pat’s brotherhood in the police force are grinding their teeth and preparing a type of welcoming mat for this person as we speak.

Can I help do the blackening? Oh, how it would give me such pleasure.

Rest In Peace, Pat Burns

I first became aware of Pat Burns when I was living in Ottawa and he was the brash young bilingual coach of the Hull Olympiques, just across the river. He stood out because he wasn’t like most coaches; he wore leathers and rode a Harley on days off, and he was a cop when he began making his way up the coaching ranks.

And although he could be a charmer, he could also explode with the best of them when his players weren’t behaving as they should, and pictures of the ex-cop fuming were seen often in local papers.

Everyone knew not to mess with Pat Burns, then and later. He was a man’s man who had friends in hockey and friends on the edges of society. This was someone who was at ease with all types, maybe because of his days patrolling the mean streets. My friend Gary lupul, who played for Canucks and who also passed away, was the same type of guy – completely at home with guys who had graduated from the school of hard knocks, guys with pasts. It’s a quality both of them had and not all of us have.

Pat Burns fought the fight and has lost, and we’ve lost a great man, plain and simple. He was well aware his time was coming quickly but being the tough hombre he was, he battled to the end with strength and grace.

Thank you, Pat, for what you did as a leader of men, and especially, from a Montreal Canadiens fan, what you did during those four years in Montreal, taking them to the finals in your first at-bat, and winning Coach of the Year for your expertise. And in the following three years, you led our team into the second round each time and you did it with flair, humour, and sometimes rage. I think the old Forum must have shuddered and trembled at some of your classic explosions when things weren’t going as planned.

Maybe that’s why they had to close the Forum – you weakened the foundation.

It must be an incredibly sad day for all who knew this fine hockey man and person, and it’s a sad day for hockey in general. 

And how great would it have been if those who make Hall of Fame decisions had put this ex-cop in when he could have been there to receive the honour in the flesh.

After all, he was Coach of the Year three times and won a Stanley Cup. Wasn’t that enough?

A Good Driving Tip, And Prayers To The Big Coach In The Sky

We’re in Olympia, Washington, just south of Seattle, after driving for nine and a half hours from Redding, California. It’s raining cars and dogs, and at this point I offer a major tip of the day. Don’t drive through Portland and up to Seattle on a Friday afternoon.

You want a two hundred mile traffic jam? Welcome to this area on a Friday. The traffic here rivals anything Jay Leno rambles on about LA freeways.

We’ll be back in Powell River tomorrow. Although I’m ready to turn around and do it again.

A day earlier, in Monterey, before the madness began.

At this point, I wish upon a star that a miracle happens with Pat Burns. I know it doesn’t look good for the coach, but I want to wake up tomorrow and read that the man who guided our Habs in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s with grace, fire, bilingualism, and skill has taken a turn for the better.