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Pat Burns.jpg

Patrick Burns (April 4, 1952 – November 19, 2010)[1] was a National Hockey League head coach. Over 14 seasons between 1988 and 2004, he achieved a record of 501-350-161-14 in 1,019 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. Burns retired in 2005 after recurring battles with cancer, which eventually claimed his life.

Coaching career[]

Burns was head coach of the QMJHL Hull Olympiques from 1984 to 1987, and of the Sherbrooke Canadiens of the American Hockey League for the 1987–1988 season.

Burns began his NHL coaching career in 1988 with the Montreal Canadiens. Throughout his career, he won three Jack Adams Awards with three different teams - Montreal (1989), Toronto (1993) and Boston (1998). He is the only three-time winner to win in his first year as coach. Burns won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003. After stepping down from coaching the Devils in 2005, Burns became a special assignment coach for the Devils.[2]

Personal life[]

Before his career in hockey, he was a police officer in Gatineau, Quebec.

In a criminal case brought against two Hells Angels members in 2003, Mr. Burns' name was brought up in court in association with evidence collected by police officers in two separate seizures at the homes of Hells Angels' Donald "Pup" Stockford of the Nomads chapter of Montreal and Walter "Nurget" Stadnick on March 28, 2001. As a result of their investigation, police brought murder and other related charges against Stockford and Stadnick. Derrek King, a member of the Ontario Provincial Police's organized crime squad, testified he found in Stadnick's closet a police bulletproof vest as well as a card congratulating him on 18 years with the bikers. Pat Burns' phone numbers were also found in a telephone book in the home. OPP officer Scott Andrew Mills discovered two notebooks filled with telephone numbers in Mr. Stockford's home, with Mr. Burns' personal numbers including his home, chalet and pager numbers found in each book. In 1994, when Burns was coaching in Toronto, OPP had questioned the coach about his ties with Stadnick, to whom Burns referred as "Wally"; however, Burns continued his association with the two men, appearing in an April 1997-dated photo together with them. Burns, in response to numerous interview requests subsequent to the disclosure that his name had come up in evidence used in a criminal case against the Hells Angels members, gave an exclusive interview to the weekly publication Allo Police, where he claimed to not have known that the men he was associating with were members of the Hells Angels.[3]

Burns survived colon cancer in 2004 and liver cancer in 2005,[4] retiring from coaching after the second diagnosis. In 2009, Burns acknowledged he had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time, this time lung cancer. The cancer was incurable and he decided to forgo further treatment.[5] During an April 2010 interview Burns stated "I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that." Gesturing to a group of local minor hockey players, he said: "A young player could come from Stanstead who plays in an arena named after me. I probably won't see the project to the end, but let's hope I'm looking down on it and see a young Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux."[6]

An arena is to be built to honour Burns' career, at Stanstead College, a private boarding school in the Eastern Townships, and be completed by 2011.[7]

On March 26, 2010, a fan-based Facebook campaign was launched to get Burns inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on the merits of his coaching record, but before he succumbed to cancer. The Let's Get Pat Burns into the Hockey Hall of Fame - NOW! Facebook group attracted over 39,000 members in its first week and received across Canada and the United States.[8] In its second week the number of hockey fans calling for Burns' induction grew to over 54,000. As of October 22, 2010, that number was at 71,307. Nevertheless, the attempts to get Burns into the Hockey Hall of Fame did not succeed as he was not selected for the 2010 class of inductees. He was married to Line Burns.


It was reported on September 16, 2010, that Burns' health had suddenly deteriorated and that he had returned to his home in Magog, Quebec, to be with his family.[9] Reports surfaced the following day that Burns had died that morning, but Burns' son denied news reports that his father had passed away. That same day, an online report by the Toronto Sun also incorrectly reported Burns' death, but was quickly revealed to be erroneous.[10] Burns himself talked to both English and French media about the incident, denying that he had died and asked for the situation to be rectified immediately.[11][12]

He died on November 19, 2010, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, at the Maison Aube-Lumière, due to colon cancer which eventually spread to his lungs.[13][14]

Pat Burns had barely been laid to rest when thieves smashed a window on his family's SUV and stole prized belongings including cherished photographs, autographed sweaters signed by each of 30 NHL teams which were meant to be auctioned for charity. Thieves did not spare even the late coach's credit cards. A grieving family is pleading for their return.[15]

Coaching record[]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
MTL 1988–89 80 53 18 9 - 115 1st in Adams Lost in Stanley Cup Final
MTL 1989–90 80 41 28 11 - 93 3rd in Adams Lost in Second Round
MTL 1990–91 80 39 30 11 - 89 2nd in Adams Lost in Second Round
MTL 1991–92 80 41 28 11 - 93 1st in Adams Lost in Second Round
TOR 1992–93 84 44 29 11 - 99 3rd in Norris Lost in Third Round
TOR 1993–94 84 43 29 12 - 98 2nd in Central Lost in Third Round
TOR 1994–95 48 21 19 8 - 50 4th in Central Lost in First Round
TOR 1995–96 65 25 30 10 - (80) 3rd in Central (fired)
BOS 1997–98 82 39 30 13 - 91 2nd in Northeast Lost in First Round
BOS 1998–99 82 39 30 13 - 91 3rd in Northeast Lost in Second Round
BOS 1999–00 82 24 33 19 6 73 5th in Northeast Did Not Qualify
BOS 2000–01 8 3 4 1 0 (88) 4th in Northeast (fired)
NJ 2002–03 82 46 20 10 6 108 1st in Atlantic Won Stanley Cup
NJ 2003–04 82 43 25 12 2 100 2nd in Atlantic Lost in First Round
Total 1019 501 353 151 14 - - 2003 Stanley Cup

See also[]

  • List of NHL head coaches


  1. "Pat Burns s'éteint à l'âge de 58 ans" (in French). RDS. 2010-11-19. http://www.rds.ca/hockey/chroniques/276790.html. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  2. New Jersey Devils: Coaching Staff (Pat Burns, Special Assignment Coach)
  3. Pigeon, Marc (2003-09-28). "Devils 'n' Angels". cnews. http://www.primetimecrime.com/Recent/Organized%20Crime/Devil%20%27n%20Angels.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  4. Former NHL Coach Pat Burns Has Lung Cancer SI.com, January 23, 2009
  5. Chere, Rich (2009-09-23). "Burns keeps on fighting". Newark Star-Ledger. http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2009/09/23/burns_cancer_fight/. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  6. DiManno, Rosie (2010-04-09). "DiManno: Former Leafs coach Pat Burns admits end is near". The Star (Toronto). http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/mapleleafs/article/792661--dimanno-former-leafs-coach-pat-burns-admits-end-is-near. 
  7. "Pat Burns honoured with Quebec hockey arena". CBC.ca. 2010-03-26. Archived from the original on 2010-03-29. http://web.archive.org/web/20100329151749/http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/03/26/quebec-hockey-arena-named-after-pat-burns.html. Retrieved 2010-03-26. 
  8. media coverage
  9. QMI Agency (2010-09-16). "Pat Burns' health worsens: reports". Toronto Sun. http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2010/09/16/15377291.html. 
  10. http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2010/09/16/15377291.html
  11. http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=334088
  12. Template:Citation
  13. http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=544018
  14. http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=341947
  15. Template:Citation

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