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Devils pay their respects to Burns

Tuesday, 11.30.2010 / 3:11 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Devils pay their respects to Burns
Burns' widow Line carries his ashes in a Stanley Cup urn.
Although Pat Burns will be remembered for his accomplishments behind the bench, he had an immeasurable impact on people from all walks of life.

On Monday, the Devils' players and coaching staff traveled to Montreal to attend the memorial for Burns, who passed away earlier this month after a long battle with cancer. 

Services were held at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral. More than 1,000 attended to pay their respects to a man who touched many lives in the hockey world and beyond. Among the dignitaries were Quebec Premier Jean Charest, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

"It was quite a sendoff for him, well deserved," said Devils' head coach John MacLean, who served two seasons under Burns as an assistant.

Burns coached 1,019 NHL games with Montreal, Toronto, Boston and New Jersey, winning 501 of them. He guided the Devils to the 2003 Stanley Cup championship and is the only coach to win the Jack Adams Award for outstanding coach with three different teams. The native of St. Henri, Quebec, was 58.

Devils' President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello delivered one of four eulogies, and was joined by Owner Jeff Vanderbeek. Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko also attended, as did ex-Devils and current Canadiens Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta.

Jamie Langenbrunner is one of four players that remain from the '03 Cup team, along with Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias and Colin White.

It was quite a sendoff for him, well deserved. - John MacLean
"That’s obviously never an easy thing to do," Langenbrunner said of the eulogy. "[Lamoriello] handled it as well as anyone. There were four people that spoke and they all came from a different angle and a different way that Pat affected their lives. It was neat to see that, and like the crowd, the diversity of the eulogies and what he meant to different people."

Before he became a successful coach, Burns was a police officer in Gatineau, Quebec. Passionate about motorcycles, he was also a member of the Road Dawgs motorcycle club.

"To be able to have been with him for a period of his life and share some of his legacy was something special," White said. "He’s touched a lot of people, whether it was police officers or bikers or hockey players or friends or family. It was nice. He did a lot in a short period of time."

Burns led Montreal to the 1989 Cup Finals, and Toronto to the conference finals before finally hoisting the Cup in New Jersey. He was known as a gruff, hard-nosed motivator.

"He was a big part of our organization and obviously he felt the same way about the organization as we did about him," White added. "To come in and be able to guide us to a Stanley Cup is something special."

Burns is survived by his wife, Line, his daughter, Maureen, son, Jason, stepdaughter, Stephanie, stepson, Maxime, and grandson, Samuel.

"Obviously a lot of sad moments and some funny stories," Elias said of the service. "For me, the most touching was when I offered my condolences to Pat’s wife. She just said something very nice to me and that was very touching."

Said White: "He demanded respect, but he earned it by being the way he was on and off the ice. He demanded respect but he gave it back."