Custom Search

Pat Burns: Unforgettable

Leaf fans have been well aware of Pat Burns’ long and difficult battle with cancer.  Everyone in the hockey world will mourn the loss of a vibrant person who died too young at the age of 58.

Those who saw him play a huge role in resurrecting the blue and white from the moment he joined the team in the summer of 1992 won’t forget the impact he had.  He didn’t build the team, that was Cliff Fletcher’s job.  But Burns certainly shaped it.  He had a “no-name” defense, but his system made them all—Macoun, Gill, Ellett, Lefebvre and Rouse, especially— household names in 1993 and 1994, as the team made it to the semi-finals in back-to-back years.

There are few, if any, Leaf fans who to this day don’t feel the Leafs deserved to be in the finals in the spring of ’93, for what would have been a historic match-up against the Montreal Canadiens of Jacques Demers and Patrick Roy.  For many, it was the high point of their time as Leaf supporters. The feeling in the city after the Game 7 loss against the Kings was something we haven’t quite experienced since.

Sadly, the Montreal-Toronto match-up wasn’t to be.

Still, those were heady days for Leaf fans, especially that ’93 playoff run when the Leafs seemed capable of being something special.  And in many ways, they were.  Gilmour was like Bobby Clarke before him in his fierce desire to win.  Andreychuk scored goals.  Foligno and others like Berg, Osborne and Zezel played their roles so well.  Potvin stood tall.  Those were good times.

Others will speak much more eloquently and knowledgeably than I possibly could about Burns as a coach and as a man.

But I, and Leaf fans of that era, will always remember his passion.

No comments:

Post a Comment