That's why a Facebook campaign is doing what it can to get the legendary coach into the Hockey Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.
As of Thursday morning, about 23,000 people joined the group on the social networking site in the hopes that Burns can gain entry into the Hall under the builders category. There is usually a three-year waiting period, a luxury Burns no longer has, for inclusion in the Hall, but builders can be inducted into the Hall at any time.
Burns posted a career record of 501-350-175 as a coach with Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, who he led to a Stanley Cup title in 2003. Burns is one of just 14 coaches to win 500 games, and he won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year three times, the only coach in League history to pull off that accomplishment.
So if it's a matter of time, why not induct the 57-year-old Burns now?
Pat Burns (Getty Images)
Neilson coached eight teams between 1977 and 2002. He was inducted as a builder in November 2002, about seven months before dying of skin and bone cancer at the age of 69.
It was recently announced that Burns, who hails from St. Henri, Quebec, will have an arena named after him in Stanstead.
"I probably won't see the final project," Burns told the Sherbrooke Record. "But I hope I'll be looking down someday to see a young Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky playing in this rink."
Pat Burns Arena is scheduled to be completed in 2011.
Burns survived colon cancer in 2004 and liver cancer in 2005. But when he discovered he had lung cancer in 2009, he decided against the chemotherapy treatment.
"It's a tough time for my family," he said. "As for my career, I always said to my kids 'you don't cry because it's over, you're happy because it happened.' That's the main thing.
"I'm very happy that it happened."