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Canadiens mourn the passing of Pat Burns

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL --The Canadiens organization was deeply saddened to learn that former head coach Pat Burns lost his long and courageous battle against cancer. Burns, 58, died surrounded by his family at La Maison Aube-Lumière in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

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Born on April 4, 1952 in Montreal’s St-Henri borough, Pat Burns played his way through the minor hockey ranks earning a brief stint with the London Knights of the OHL, before embarking on a career with the Gatineau police force. His passion for the game kept him in hockey as a minor hockey coach in the Outaouais area, and in 1983-84 he was called upon to coach the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL where he served for four seasons, including a trip to the Memorial Cup in 1986 after posting a remarkable 54-18-0 regular season record.

Burns made his debut with the Montreal Canadiens’ organization in 1987 as head coach of the franchise’s main affiliate Sherbrooke Canadiens. He was promoted to the position of Montreal’s head coach after a single season in the AHL. In his first season behind the Habs’ bench, Burns led his troops to the Stanley Cup finals after a regular season record of 53-18-9 and his first Jack Adams award as Coach of the Year.

In 1992-93, following four seasons with the Canadiens, Burns took on the coaching duties with the Toronto Maple Leafs, leading the team to the Conference championship and earning his second Jack Adams award after leading the Leafs to a franchise-record 32-point improvement. Following a one-year hiatus in 1996-97, Burns is hired as head coach of the Boston Bruins and at the end of his first season he becomes the first head coach in NHL history to win three Jack Adams Awards. After four seasons in Boston, Burns accepts an offer to coach the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03 posting a .622 winning percentage and leading them to the Stanley Cup over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in a thrilling 7-game series. 

Through his 15-season career as head coach in the NHL, only once did Pat Burns miss the playoffs (1999-2000 with the Bruins) while at the helm of his team. His overall numbers speak volumes of his character and dedication. Burns won 501 of the 1,019 games he coached, losing only 353 and tying 165 games. His record in the playoffs stands at 78 wins and 71 losses in 149 games.

Pat Burns is survived by his beloved wife Line, his daughter, Maureen and son Jason.

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