Former Stanley Cup winning coach Pat Burns passed away today in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Burns coached multiple teams in the league including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, and New Jersey Devils. He led the Devils to a Stanley Cup championship in 2003, and made Stanley Cup finals appearance with Montreal in 1989, his first season coaching in the NHL.
Lung cancer was the third round of cancer Burns was diagnosed with. In 2004 he survived colon cancer and a year later he survived liver cancer. He retired from coaching after his battle with colon cancer, and in 2009 he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He refused treatment for lung cancer, which was determined to be incurable. In an interview in April, Burns stated “I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that.”
Burns was the first rookie coach to win the Jack Adams Award for top coach in the NHL when he won 53 games with the Canadiens in addition to the Stanley Cup finals appearance. The 53 wins would be his career-high but did win 41 or more games on six occasions. He was also the only coach to win three Jack Adams Awards as he also won the award with Toronto in 1993 and Boston in 1998. He began his coaching career with the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL in 1983 before moving to the AHL to coach the Sherbrooke Canadiens in 1987.
He was able to see ground being broken on an arena in Quebec at Stanstead College to be named in his honor. The arena at the boarding school will be completed in 2011.