Sean Burke spends the hockey season as a professional scout and goaltending consultant for the Montreal Canadians, but he's taken on another type of teaching with the NHL season paused due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The former NHL goalie has played guitar since the late 1980s and is now using YouTube to bring knowledge to others.
The 53-year-old, who went 324-341-9 with 101 ties over 18 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lighting and Los Angeles Kings, has two online lessons available and is working on a third one.
In his first lesson on April 2, Burke teaches would-be guitarists how to play "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," by Bob Dylan, and in his second lesson on April 10, Burke shows how to play "Free Fallin'," by Tom Petty.
"I'm a very, very average weekend-warrior type guitar player, but I've played long enough and along the lines of coaching, I sort of understand what the average, basic or beginning guitar player feels like when they start out and what some of the challenges are," Burke said from his home in the Phoenix area. "So I've taken a little time the last few weeks to try to put together lessons that address that, because I've gone through that myself. It can be a little intimidating when you first pick it up, you're not really sure where to start."
Burke was inspired to do online lessons by former teammates and others in hockey who have asked him for pointers on playing guitar.
"It was really just intended for friends and it sort of extended out to anybody who's trying to start out playing," Burke said. "If this helps, great. It gives you something positive right now; it's a good way to get your mind off things. But also, music is great, it's great for the brain, it's great for the memory. If you're not a natural musician, there's a lot of discipline involved. You've got to work at it. There's a lot of value in it, if you ask me."
Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals and Ryan Miller of the Anaheim Ducks are among NHL goalies who play guitar. Burke may get one of them to do a guest lesson with him but wanted to see the reception from his initial lessons first.
"I think [feedback's] been good," he said. "I'm not very good on social media, so I don't really find myself knowing where to go and check. My wife helped put them out on YouTube. She looks at my Facebook account and says, 'Oh, you're getting some good responses to this.' And I've had people text me, saying, 'Hey, I enjoyed your lesson.'"
Burke, who spent the first four seasons of his NHL career with the Devils, played a few requests, including "Wish You Were Here," by Pink Floyd and "Wanted Dead or Alive," by Bon Jovi when he went on the "Let's Go Devils" podcast on Sunday. Some requests, however, he couldn't fulfill.
"Someone asked for Creedence Clearwater [Revival], and obviously we all know a lot of the classic CCR songs, but I never really found myself learning them or playing them, so I didn't have one of those," Burke said. "I really sort of got stumped on Bruce Springsteen. I think he's amazing, and I've actually had the opportunity to meet Bruce over the years. But I didn't have a Springsteen song, so I kind of fell flat on my face on that one."
In addition to his guitar lessons and doing what he called weekly projects for the Canadiens, Burke has also keeping himself busy with other activities since the NHL season was paused on March 12.
"I've found a lot of opportunities to get a lot of things done, whether it be stuff around the house or picking up a hobby that I've always had that I haven't had a lot of time with," Burke said. "But we've also had work projects; I'm sure every team has had at least something to do each week with their scouting staff or their management group, those kind of things."
As for his guitar work, he's just happy to help anyone who is looking for it.
"Volume-wise, it's not, whatever the word is, 'trending'. I'm not looking for that anyway," Burke said. "It was the attitude that, if a few pick it up and enjoy it and it works for them, that's great, that's good enough."