|Hockey Hall of Fame, 2014 (Builder)|
|Born||April 4, 1952|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||November 19, 2010 (aged 58)|
Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Toronto Maple Leafs
New Jersey Devils
|Stanley Cup wins||2003|
|Years as an NHL coach||1988-2004|
Patrick John Joseph Burns (April 4, 1952 - November 19, 2010) was a National Hockey League head coach. Over 14 seasons between 1988 and 2004, he coached in 1,019 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. Burns retired in 2005 after being diagnosed with recurring cancer, which eventually claimed his life five years later.
As a child, Burns had always wanted to play on a NHL team, and win the Stanley Cup. Realizing he didn't possess the skill set to make it professionally, Burns became a police officer. He had also worked part-time as a scout for the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL. He became an assistant coach with Hull in 1984, and worked his way through the ranks, becoming the team's head coach after owner Wayne Gretzky and general manager Charles Henry decided he'd be the best fit. During his time with the Olympiques, he coached future Hockey Hall of Fame member Luc Robitaille. Before the start of the 1987-88 NHL season, Montreal Canadiens general manager Serge Savard offered Burns the head coach position for the Sherbrooke Canadiens of the American Hockey League. Burns held the position for one year before being promoted to head coach of Montreal.
In Burns first year as an NHL coach, the Canadiens finished the 1988-89 NHL season with a division-winning 53-18-9, ultimately losing the Stanley Cup finals in six games to the Calgary Flames. Burns won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, his first of three wins. A defensive-minded coach, Burns would lead Montreal to the second round of the playoffs in every year as head coach, before making a shocking resignation at the end of the 1992 season where they were swept by the Boston Bruins, citing his frustration with the media.
Following his departure from Montreal, Burns was hired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had also received an offer from the Los Angeles Kings, but he cited the Leafs' history as a factor in his decision, and added "I find myself fortunate to coach two of the greatest franchises in NHL history." He led Toronto in their best playoff run since 1967, making it to the conference finals, losing in seven games to the Kings. At the NHL Awards, Burns won his second Jack Adams trophy. He followed that performance with another trip to the conference finals in 1994, losing in five to the Vancouver Canucks. The Leafs again made the playoffs in 1995, but following a disappointing losing streak during the 1996 season, Burns was let go.
Burns took a year off from hockey before being hired to coach the Boston Bruins in 1997. He won the Jack Adams at the end of the season, making him the only coach in history to win the award three separate times. All three of his wins came in his introductory season with the team. The Bruins continued to have success until the 1999-2000 season, when they missed the playoffs, the first time in Burns' career where his team missed the playoffs. Burns was fired eight games into the 2000-01 season, following a disappointing 3-4-1 record.
Burns finished his head coaching career with the New Jersey Devils, leading them to the Stanley Cup in 2003 while winning over 40 games in both seasons as coach of the team. He resigned in 2005 in an effort to focus on his health and treatment following a cancer diagnosis in 2004, though he remained with the organisation as a special assignment coach.
Burns was born in Montreal to Geralda "Louise" Girardeau and Alfred Burns. Pat was the youngest of 6 children, he has 4 older sisters and 1 older brother (Violet, Alfred "Sonny", Lillian, Phyllis and Diane).
Before his career in hockey, he was a police officer in Gatineau. Burns originally studied to be a welder, but became a police officer after hearing they were in need for positions. Burns had lied about his age to get the job, stating he was 18 when in actuality, he was 17. He would hold the position for sixteen years.
Burns survived colon cancer in 2004 and liver cancer in 2005, retiring from coaching after the second diagnosis. In 2009 Burns announced that his colon cancer had returned and metastasized to his lungs, was thus inoperable, and therefore he decided to forgo further treatment. 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."
He was married to Line Burns. He had two children, a son from a long-term relationship and a daughter from a previous marriage.
He was the cousin of Robin 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. Reports surfaced the following day that Burns had died that morning, but Burns' son denied news reports that his father had died. That same day, an online report by the Toronto Sun also incorrectly reported Burns' death, but was quickly revealed to be erroneous. Burns himself talked to both English and French media about the incident, denying that he had died and asked that his status be clarified immediately.
Shortly after his funeral, thieves broke into Burns' widow's car, stealing personal belongings, credit cards and numerous pieces of hockey memorabilia, including 30 autographed NHL jerseys that were to be auctioned for charity. Some of the items were later recovered. One day after his death, prior to a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens (two of the teams he coached) at the Bell Centre, there was a special tribute video highlighting the great moments of his coaching career, followed by a moment of silence.
Ever since his retirement, Burns has been frequently mentioned as one of the best coaches in the history of the National Hockey League, often appearing in lists and discussions between fans and sports websites.
Burns is the only coach in history to win the Jack Adams Award three separate times, with all three of his wins came in his introductory season with that respective NHL team, and also incidentally winning the Award in his first three NHL teams coached. Twice in his introductory season as coach his team reached the Stanley Cup Finals, losing in 1989 and winning in 2003.
On March 26, 2010, a fan-based Facebook campaign was launched by three Canadians (Warren Weeks, Mark Fieldhouse, and John Perenack) 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. 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 and surpassed 80,000 at its conclusion. 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. On June 23, 2014, Burns was announced as one of the inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
|MTL|||1988-89||80||53||18||9||--||115||1st in Adams||Lost in Stanley Cup Finals|
|MTL||1989-90||80||41||28||11||--||93||3rd in Adams||Lost in Division Finals|
|MTL||1990-91||80||39||30||11||--||89||2nd in Adams||Lost in Division Finals|
|MTL||1991-92||80||41||28||11||--||93||1st in Adams||Lost in Division Finals|
|TOR||1992-93||84||44||29||11||--||99||3rd in Norris||Lost in Conference Finals|
|TOR||1993-94||84||43||29||12||--||98||2nd in Central||Lost in Conference Finals|
|TOR||1994-95||48||21||19||8||--||50||4th in Central||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals|
|BOS||1997-98||82||39||30||13||--||91||2nd in Northeast||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals|
|BOS||1998-99||82||39||30||13||--||91||3rd in Northeast||Lost in Conference Semifinals|
|BOS||1999-2000||82||24||33||19||6||73||5th in Northeast||Did not qualify|
|NJD||2002-03||82||46||20||10||6||108||1st in Atlantic||Won Stanley Cup|
|NJD||2003-04||82||43||25||12||2||100||2nd in Atlantic||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals|
|Total||1,019||501||353||151||14||1 Stanley Cup|
11 playoff appearances