TORONTO -- New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello helped Pat Burns win the Stanley Cup, and he helped usher him posthumously into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Lamoriello said Burns fought cancer like no one he had ever met, and showed the character that made him a great policeman and later a great coach. The Devils GM said Burns had a knack for making players accountable, and to do so there had to be some fear but ultimately it would lead to respect.
When Lamoriello interviewed Burns for the Devils coaching job, he asked him what he still wanted to accomplish, and Burns said simply to win the Stanley Cup. Lamoriello said they talked about a couple things he felt Burns needed to change, and "he wanted to try to go down that road."
"That's how the relationship started and we never looked back," Lamoriello said.
Before the acceptance speech, the video to commemorate Burns' career ended with him speaking after he had been battling cancer.
"You don't cry that it is over. You are just happy that it happened," Burns said.
Burns' wife, Line, and son, Jason, accepted his Hall of Fame plaque from Doug Gilmour, who had played for him with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"You all agree with me, Pat was his own creation: so unique, so passionate, so intense, larger than life. What a character," Line Burns said. "Nobody gets in the Hockey Hall of Fame without hard work and sacrifices. Pat had two goals: winning and making a difference. This honor tonight, it’s our way to show him how much he meant to us."
Jason Burns spoke first, saying he and his mother would split the honors. Jason Burns told the story of how he first broke the news to Pat that he was not selected for the Hall of Fame in 2010 in his first time eligible.
When told of who was voted in and the class included Cammi Granato and Angela James, Pat Burns said, "It's about time they put women in there." He said his son that just being considered a potential Hall of Fame inductee was a tremendous honor to him.
Jason Burns said his father had some advice for a speech in case he was inducted after his death. He told Jason, "You better look and have a good speech ready, because you're the one who is going to be going up there."
Burns said his father was very passionate about the Hall of Fame, and he wanted him to make sure he thanked Wayne Gretzky and Charlie Henry for helping him get his start. He told Jason "Don't forget the players because they're the ones in front of you that make it happen, and don't forget the fans because they were always good to him."
Line Burns began her portion of the speech by talking about what a great Hall of Fame class this was for Pat to be a part of. She said they were all people that Pat respected, joking that yes, even referees like Bill McCreary were people he respected, especially after the games.
She said that Pat had two goals, winning and making a difference. On this night, everyone could see how he made a difference.
"Healthy Pat coached the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs, the Bruins and the Devils," Line Burns said. "He taught them how to win: tall, proud, intense, true. Unhealthy Pat taught me, our family our friends, how to live and how to survive: tall, proud, intense, true."