Pat Burns, one of the more popular coaches in Bruins history and the only man to win the Jack Adams Award (best coach) with three separate teams, passed away today at the too-young age of 58 after losing his third battle with our modern plague.
After two previous battles with cancer, Burns opted to skip further treatment and live out the remainder of his days. The fiery former cop went from Canadian Jrs. to the Stanley Cup Finals in just two years and his blunt style made him a favorite among fans, if not always his players.
He did 3+ memorable seasons in this city, winning the Adams in his first season here. But like 99% of hockey coaches, he was canned before resurfacing in the swamplands of North Jersey two years later.
Ironically, Burns won his only Stanley Cup with the one team, the New Jersey Devils, that he didn’t win coach of the year with.
Burns was twice eligible for Hockey Hall of Fame induction but was inexplicably denied both times by the HHOF’s ridiculous process (like most HOFs). Prior to the last induction, there was a heavy campaign to vote Burns because of his terminal condition and people rightly figured that it’s better to elect a living man and allow him to enjoy it rather than years down the road when the man is gone (and that’s exactly what going to happen). It unfortunately fell short.
But being the straight-shooter Burns was, it’s likely he knew for a long while his place in the history of the game and that he will eventually join the others in hockey’s ultimate club.
Farewell, Burnsy. We’ll see you in Toronto soon enough.