Burns Hall of Fame snub inexcusable

This past week, the hockey world mourned the loss of a coaching legend with the passing of Pat Burns.

I am sure that many of us are in the same boat, where Burns was a staple of our Saturday nights growing up. Watching Hockey Night in Canada and seeing him often irritated with the referees, voicing his displeasure, quite clearly became the norm for Leafs fans.

Those were the days of Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark, Felix Potvin and the legendary Maple Leaf Gardens. The Leafs were competitive and Burns was the mastermind of it all.

This past Saturday night was a perfect setting to honour Burns, with the Leafs and Canadiens both sporting commemorative stickers on their helmets to show respect for their former coach.

Is it not appropriate that we remember Burns during Movember? His mustache was always recognizable and he managed to keep it as long as he could into his cancer treatment.

During this past summer, Sports Centre ran a story on Burns’ contributions towards building a new hockey rink in the Eastwood Townships of Quebec.

Depleted by his cancer, Burns was virtually unrecognizable, but still managed to bravely stand next to Prime Minister Harper and celebrate the new rink.

This was deep down what Burns was all about — small town Canadian hockey and communities coming together to celebrate their passion for the game.

Over his 14 seasons as an NHL coach, Burns accumulated an impressive 501 wins and a Stanley Cup victory in 2003. He also won over fans and media alike in both Montreal and Toronto, two of the most passionate and difficult markets to excel in. When news of his illness broke, fans came together in attempt to earn Burns a deserving spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Facebook groups, hockey fans and reporters all agreed, it would have been appropriate as well as logical to induct Burns into the Hall of Fame this year, so that he could embrace the honour and share it with his family. It should have been a fitting farewell from the game to Burns, a man who had given hockey all he could.

Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame voters and committee are illogical, and failed to give Burns the send off he had earned. Now as fans, we are left with our own memories of Pat Burns to allow his legacy to live on.

For me, I will always remember sitting down on a Saturday night and watching the then-competitive Toronto Maple Leafs with Pat Burns behind the bench, confident, voicing his displeasure to the referees and smiling when he liked what he saw. In a day of boring press conferences and athlete divas, fans long for a genuine character who is not afraid to express his emotions and demonstrate his passion for the game.

A colourful man that stuck true to himself and loved his job, it is sad that the Hall of Fame snubbed Burns and didn’t give him the pleasure when he was alive.

For what it’s worth, Movember now has a whole new meaning to me, as I now have two reasons to wear my mustache.

Thank you for the memories, Pat Burns.

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