Line Burns wasn’t expecting the call.
Her late husband, Pat Burns, was one of the most accomplished coaches in the NHL during his time in the League. A career record of 501-353-151-14, for 1,167 points and a .573 winning percentage. Making the playoffs in 11 out of 14 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils. Winning the Jack Adams Award three times. Winning the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003.
But it wasn’t enough for enshrinement, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee, which overlooked Burns as a “builder” each year after his coaching career had ended.
What made the snubbing difficult to stomach: That he stopped coaching in 2004 because he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which he defeated, before he was diagnosed with liver cancer and then lung cancer in 2009, at which point Burns opted against treatment.
Yet the Hall of Fame decided not to elect him before Burns died in 2010.
Line Burns wasn’t sure if the honor would ever arrive.
Until it did on Monday, when Pat Burns was posthumously elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“When I got the call today, I was very surprised. Overwhelmed. I never thought it would come this soon,” said Line Burns. “Not expecting it at all. But very, very happy for him. For what he did and who he was as a person.”
The movement to get Burns elected spans over five years, with everyone from online petitions to hockey luminaries like Lou Lamoriello and Chris Chelios backing his candidacy.
Line Burns is just happy to see the day arrive. “It’s a tremendous honor. I know that Pat would have been so happy, so grateful, so proud to accept this honor,” she said.
“One word comes to my mind. It’s ‘grateful.’ Thank you, thank you, thank you.”