1990-91 Pro Set card #669 – Pat Burns
Former NHL coach Pat Burns passed away last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. The man had an impressive career, wining coach of the year honors three times and a Stanley Cup in 2003. But what always stuck with me were his blowups. Burns would yell and cause quite a commotion when he got angry during a game. With his stocky build and mustache, he was reminiscent of former National Football League coach Mike Ditka, who was legendary for his sideline tantrums.
Another thing that impressed upon me was that Burns was a police officer for 17 years before he got into coaching. Going from cop to hockey coach is quite a leap, but Burns did it. Then again, there are probably few vocations that could prepare you better for being an NHL coach. In both jobs, you have to be aware of what’s going on at all times. And in both jobs, you have to have a thick skin.
Burns had those qualities in spades, which led to a successful, 14-season NHL coaching career. He also won the Jack Adams Award (as the league’s best coach) three times – each time with a different team. In his first year as an NHL coach (1988-89), he compiled a 53-18-9 record with the Montreal Canadiens, winning his first Adams Award. In his first year as coach of the Maple Leafs (1992-93), he helped the team improve by 33 points, netting the honor a second time. And in 1997-98, Burns would work his magic again, improving the Bs by 30 points en route to his third Adams Award.
Three coach of the year honors with three different teams – each in his first year with each respective team.
Ironically, Burns did not win the Jack Adams Award in his first year as coach of the New Jersey Devils, and had to “settle” with winning the Stanley Cup instead.
Here is a classic video of Burns getting mad – to put it mildly – during a game in the 1990-91 season. Other coaches may have matched his success, but few if any could match his emotion.