Looking back at Pat Burns' coaching career

Pat Burns.jpgIt’s been a month of largely unhappy news (and discussion) in the NHL, but this story about an arena being named after former NHL coach Pat Burns positively devastated me. Here are a few excerpts from a rather heart-wrenching AP story.

A thin and frail Pat Burns said he’s honored to have an arena named after him, even as he conceded he likely won’t live to see it completed.

Burns was forced to leave coaching in 2004 because colon cancer. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, he opted against treatment.

“I know my life is nearing the end and I accept that,” he told a few dozen invited guests at Stanstead College. “I probably won’t be here when (the arena) is finished, but I’ll be looking down on it.”

It will be a sad day when the former Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Devils and Bruins coach dies, but I’d rather not focus on Burns’ health. Instead, check out this snapshot of the three-time Jack Adams award winner’s career after the jump.

* – Burns started his head coaching career off in an impressive fashion with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1988-89 season. The coach won his first coach of th year award, the Habs lost in the Stanley Cup Finals and finished the regular season 53-18-9.

* – The Canadiens made the playoffs every year he was the team’s coach (from 88-89 to 91-92).

* – Burns was also very successful in another Canadian pressure cooker, Toronto. 

* – Burns won his second Jack Adams award with Toronto in the 92-93 season.

* – Toronto made it to the Eastern Conference Finals twice under his watch and made the playoffs until he was fired around the middle of the 1995-96 season.

* – Burns had a fairly successful run with the Boston, particularly in the 97-98  campaign, when Burns became the first three-time winner of the Jack Adams Award. Also noteworthy is the fact that he did so with three different teams.

* – Arguably the height of his career came with the New Jersey Devils, though, as he helped the team win a Stanley Cup in the 2002-03 season.

* – Unfortunately, Burns eventually had to leave the sport to fight colon (and lung) cancer.

* – Burns only missed the playoffs three times in his 14 years of coaching and two of those times he was abruptly fired during the season.

* – Burns finished his career with a 501-350-161-14 record in 1019 games.

(All stats taken from Hockeydb.com.)

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    Even the Flames’ struggling power play capitalized against the Blackhawks’ struggling penalty kill

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    The Calgary Flames had the league’s worst power play at just four per cent coming into Monday’s game against Chicago.

    Yeah. Awful.

    The Blackhawks had the league’s worst penalty kill at just 42.9 per cent, which is also awful, although their issues go deeper than that aspect.

    So, of course special teams played an important role in this game. Despite their previous struggles with the advantage, the Flames scored twice on the power play, on goals from Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, taking their turn capitalizing on Chicago’s early-season difficulties short handed.

    The Flames finished two-for-five on the power play, giving them three power play goals in 30 opportunities so far. They jumped all the way to 27th in the league in that category (!!) at 10 per cent. The Blackhawks have given up 14 power play goals against on 26 chances.

    This is not the company you’d expect the Blackhawks to be keeping.

    The Blackhawks did come back to force overtime, but they ultimately lost 3-2 in the shootout.

    Former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in the deciding breakaway contest, giving Calgary the win.

    While the Flames power play came alive for this game, the play of goalie Brian Elliott was significant.

    He, too, had struggled mightily with three losses in three starts, and a .839 save percentage, prompting his former teammate Jake Allen to say Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Elliott despite his dreadful start.

    Against Chicago, Elliott made 31 saves on 33 shots and then made five saves in the seven-round shootout.

    The Habs took a chance signing Radulov and (so far) they’ve been rewarded

    MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 20:  Alexander Radulov #47 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at the Bell Centre on October 20, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    The Montreal Canadiens took a chance on Alexander Radulov.

    The cost? One year at $5.75 million, which is a significant investment for a 30-year-old player with plenty of talent but past off-ice discipline issues. So far, Radulov has been a welcomed addition to a Habs lineup that needed a skilled forward capable of putting up good numbers and taking a top-six role.

    The success — or lack of — for the Habs will always focus around the play and health of goalie Carey Price.

    But Radulov is off to a nice start to the season, which should provide some optimism for Canadiens fans after a disappointing 2015-16 season and the tumultuous summer that followed.

    He entered Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with two points in five games, but had solid puck possession numbers. Against the Flyers, he was once again a central figure for the Habs on the attack.

    And the production followed.

    He had a three-point night, setting up Shea Weber‘s goal in the second period — Weber’s slap shot busted the stick of Brayden Schenn and still had enough to get by goalie Steve Mason — and Brendan Gallagher for the eventual winner late in the third period.

    Radulov then secured the win with an empty-net goal, giving him five points in six games. The Habs, following their 3-1 win over the Flyers, remain the only team in the league without a regulation loss.

    Radulov entered the season as a potential X-factor for the Habs.

    General manager Marc Bergevin received plenty of criticism for trading P.K. Subban. But so far, the returns from signing Radulov have been promising for the Habs.

    Video: Shea Weber scores with blistering slap shot that destroyed Schenn’s stick


    In case you didn’t know by now, here is more evidence that Shea Weber possesses a devastating slap shot.

    The Montreal Canadiens defenseman on Monday scored his second goal of the season, once again deploying his shot from the blue line. This time, he ripped a shot that busted the stick of Brayden Schenn, who was trying to get into the shooting lane, and still had enough behind it to beat Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason.

    That gave the Habs the lead.

    The Flyers responded later on in the second period on Jakub Voracek‘s third goal of the season.

    Christian Ehrhoff signs with Kolner Haie in Germany

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Christian Ehrhoff #10 of Team Europe looks on against Team Canada during the second period during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Christian Ehrhoff is finally under contract for this season, but not in the NHL.

    Ehrhoff, 34, signed with Kolner Haie in Germany, the team announced via Twitter on Monday.

    Most recently, Ehrhoff was with the Boston Bruins on a professional tryout (PTO) prior to the beginning of the season, but he opted not to sign with that club, instead deciding to return home to Germany.

    Ehrhoff also suited up for Team Europe at this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.

    In 789 NHL games, the puck-moving defenseman scored 74 goals and 339 points. His most productive seasons came with the Vancouver Canucks, as he helped that team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.