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Burns to be honored in pre-game ceremony

Monday, 11.22.2010 / 2:33 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Burns to be honored in pre-game ceremony
Devils to honor Burns before Monday's game vs. Caps.
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Just hours before the Devils were to honor Pat Burns in a pre-game ceremony, two members of the 2003 Stanley Cup championship shared their memories of the legendary head coach.

Burns, the three-time Jack Adams Award winner, passed away Friday at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer. The Devils host Washington Monday night.

“Obviously, he did a lot for a lot of us in here,” Colin White said. “He got us to that point that we all dream of as kids, guiding us in the right direction to have success. He was very young, a young man, and a great leader for a lot of us. Any day that sort of stuff happens is a sad day. He’s touched a lot of people in his life.”

White is one of four current Devils that were on that 2003 club. Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, and Jamie Langenbrunner were also key contributors in the series victory over Anaheim that secured New Jersey’s third title in nine seasons.

“Anything you hear is true,” Elias said when asked to describe Burns’ style. “Tough, at first, to read and to get a feel for, but it worked for us.”

It also worked for Burns in Montreal, Toronto and Boston, where the 501-game winner enjoyed success with three of the NHL’s premier franchises. In each city, his impact was immediate. Here’s what Burns achieved in first seasons with a new team: trip to the Finals (Montreal), a trip to the conference finals (Toronto), a 30-point improvement from the previous year (Boston), and a Stanley Cup title (New Jersey).

It’s no wonder he’s the only coach ever to earn top honors three times.

“He demanded a lot, at the same time, he knew how to communicate with all of us and keep that fine line between player and coach,” said White. “He kept you on edge. The last couple of years, we knew him more as a person than as a coach. He was a great family man and a good friend to a lot of us.”

Current head coach John MacLean cut his teeth as an assistant under Burns in 2002-03. Current assistant Larry Robinson was a Canadien for Burns' first year in Montreal. Brian Rolston and Washington forward Mike Knuble were members of Burns' Bruins in 1999-00 and 2000-01.

“Burnsy gave me my opportunity to coach and it was a great experience working with him, seeing how he handles things,” MacLean said. “He cared a lot about the people he works with and the players. It’s sad that he passed and I have pretty fond memories of him.”

Burns was straightforward about his objectives. By the time he arrived in New Jersey in 2002, he had little left to accomplish except reach hockey’s summit. His passion for the game – and for winning –  made players eager to follow him.

“He was a very emotional coach,” White recalled. “You knew that from day one and he made that very clear to us as players. He was funny in the way that he came across in saying it, but we all knew and took it very seriously. He was here for one job, one purpose, and that was stressed from day one when he got here, right from his mouth. We accepted that, and he accepted us. It worked out and we did succeed.”

Still missing from Burns’ résumé is a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Though many were hopeful Burns would live to see his name enshrined, his former players believe he will soon enter into Toronto’s hallowed halls.

“I hope he does – I do,” White said. “He’s touched a lot of people in the hockey world, and away from it, too. He was a special person.”

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59