I was very sad to hear of the passing of Pat Burns, a great and powerful coach in the NHL. He will always be remembered for his fiery spirit. I remember when he was brought in as the Habs' coach, with the rep of strict, red-hot-tempered coach who would keep the Habs players in line.
My first memory of Pat Burns was in the 1988-89 season, when he led the Habs to the final. I remember how he was so intense, making sure his team toed the line. The biggest memory I have of him is that he stood up for his work and his standards. He never would lower his standards as a coach or a person. He led his Canadiens to the final against the Flames. He was always working the players. If they messed up, he would let them know about it. At the same time, there was never any doubt that his players were his family, and he treated them that way. He would stood up for them. I truly think he would give his kidney for them. They were his players, and he went to the limit for them every night.
During his Toronto years, he became my hero. I am a true Maple Leafs fan, and could not believe the run in 93. Each series I could not believe that he was coaching this team through. He seemed to bring the best out of the players; he was a master with that team. I remember how much I loved the way he led this team with his heart. He was and always will be known as the everyday-Joe coach. Every fan knew him. Love him or hate him, you respected him and knew him as man's man.
The one thing I will remember about him was his smile. You know, the smile when he was not particularly happy with a call. It made me laugh to watch him react with his heart on his sleeve. I will always remember his interviews, laughing at his replies to the media, especially if he was mad at them. I loved to hear him give it to them, because sometimes the media asked the stupidest questions.
He will always be known for his accomplishments as a coach. But he was also known has a caring man in the community and with his family. He was known for his love of the cities and the fans. He was always there for his fans. He was a husband and father first, coach second. He was a dedicated person on and off the ice. His had a strong will to live and never backed down from a fight. He fought cancer with dignity and with tons of heart. He was never less of a man when he lived and when he passed away.
Speaking of his coaching achievements: three times he made coach of the year. His years in Toronto, bringing them out of the grave to almost cup champions. And of course, finally getting his ring in NJ. I will never forget his jubilation with his players as they were the Stanley Cup Champions. I was thinking “finally, a good guy finishes first”. I was really never a fan of the Devils, but I was very happy for him, as he deserved it more than anyone I knew.
I could never put into words what really needs to be said to the Habs fans and Leafs fans, and for that matter, the Devils and Bruins. But please understand this: how much I am going to miss Pat. He was one of my heroes. I feel like I have lost a very close friend. Can there be a greater tribute than that to be said about a person? My heart and prayers are with the Burns family. Please take solace in the fact that the hockey world mourns with you. May God be with you .