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Excerpt from "Coach: The Pat Burns Story"

Thursday, 11.1.2012 / 9:27 AM ET / Features
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Excerpt from \"Coach: The Pat Burns Story\"

An excerpt from "Coach: The Pat Burns Story" by Rosie DiManno:

NEW JERSEY, 2003

Nine months of labour had boiled down to one deciding game for the Stanley Cup. And Burns, the softie, pulled out one last trick: he reinserted Daneyko into the lineup. “The most important game and Dano came back,” says Brodeur. Informed at a team dinner that he’d be playing—but cautioned by Burns to keep that under his hat until game time—Daneyko had to leave the room so he could burst into tears privately.

Game seven was New Jersey’s exclamation point to the playoffs, an imperious 3–0 triumph, Friesen contributing two goals and twenty-three- year-old rookie Michael Rupp, filling the void left by injured Nieuwendyk, scoring the first, which was the winner, a kid’s hockey dream come true. Before the opening faceoff, Burns had gazed up at the crowd and then taken his own emotional pulse. “I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I was. I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck, and I wasn’t.” It was his ninth game seven in a thirteen-year coaching career, pulling Burns into a tie with Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan.

He came in from day one and was a no-nonsense guy, did some things that sometimes you don’t understand. I guess that’s why he coaches and we play. Probably one of the toughest coaches I’ve played for, but well worth it. - Ken Daneyko

Yet even in the greatest moment of his professional life, Burns didn’t shake his signature scowl. Someone asked him about the “beauty” of a game seven. “You call it a beauty? I don’t know how pretty it is. I don’t know if I’d go out on a date with it very often.”

Brodeur’s third finals shutout notwithstanding, the Conn Smythe Trophy for most valuable player went to Giguère, who didn’t smile upon accepting it. Nor was Burns even nominated for a fourth Jack Adams. But, at last, he’d won the only silver hardware that mattered. Off to the side during the on-ice hoopla, hands stuffed in his pockets, Burns wondered why he didn’t feel a surge of elation. “Gee, it doesn’t look like this on TV.”

He watched Gary Bettman present the Stanley Cup to Devils captain Scott Stevens, who hoisted it overhead and began the traditional handoff, player to player, including Nieuwendyk, who’d changed into full uniform. This was the embodiment of all their toil, the hardest trophy to capture in professional sports. Finally, the jug reached Burns. He planted one tender smooch on the Cup, then lifted it in the direction of his family in the stands.

“I was glad to see them up there,” he said later. “My son Jason and my daughter Maureen came in from Montreal, drove all the way down. My wife was there, friends and family from Quebec. I pointed the Cup at them because sometimes you forget the people who are behind you, who were there when things don’t go so good. The last couple of minutes, it was really exciting, not for myself, but because I was afraid to disappoint people, disappoint my family, disappoint the fans. I owe a lot to Lou.”

In the dressing room, drenched by champagne, amidst the hoots and hollers, Daneyko gave full credit to the coach. “He just kept the pedal to the metal all year long and didn’t let us get complacent. That was probably what was missing from the club the last few years. He came in from day one and was a no-nonsense guy, did some things that sometimes you don’t understand. I guess that’s why he coaches and we play. Probably one of the toughest coaches I’ve played for, but well worth it.”

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 53 15 24 7 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 53 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 51 17 16 14 33
T. Zajac 45 7 18 6 25
D. Schlemko 45 6 9 -9 15
A. Larsson 53 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 53 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 42 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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