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Fans want Burns in HHoF

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

A Facebook campaign to get cancer-stricken coach Pat Burns into the Hockey Hall of Fame has close to 10,000 supporters in just five days.

Whether the fan response has any sway with the Hall’s selection committee remains to be seen. The idea is to get Burns chosen in the builders’ wing, which does not require the three-year wait players are subject to. Warren Weeks, co-founder of the three-man group behind the push, hopes the huge response gets the required one member of the 12-person committee to put Burns’ name forward by the April 15 deadline. A June vote then follows and the induction ceremony is in November.

Weeks, an Oakville resident who runs a small public relations firm, and hockey pool pals John Perenack and Mark Fieldhouse, all saw coverage of Friday’s emotional speech by Burns at the ground breaking for a rink in Quebec’s Eastern Townships to be named in his honour. The 58-year-old Burns, who coached the Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Bruins and lastly, the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup, showed the effects of battling three different types of cancer over the past 10 years and was candid that he likely won’t be around to see the arena finished in 2011.

“It was very sad and touching, and one of us said ‘he should be in the Hall while he’s still with us’,” Weeks said. “It’s the kind of thing you say and then go back to your own life, but we talked about it more and in less than 90 seconds, we’d set up the page. I went to dinner with my family and there were the original three of us signed on, but when I came back, there were a few hundred.

“On Saturday, Scott Morrison and Jeff Marek had it up on Hockey Night In Canada and by today (Tuesday) there were 8,000, heading towards 10,000 by tonight. The comments have come from across Canada, from California, Maryland and all the places he coached and they’re incredible to read.”

Weeks and friends have no connection to Burns other than being Leafs and Canadiens’ fans. Fieldhouse met him once in the street and Burns signed his Montreal hat, but they hope he’s heard about their effort and that he approves.

“We just thought he’ll be in the Hall one day, so why not while he and his family can enjoy it?,” Weeks said.

Among the first-year eligible players for the 2010 Hall class are Joe Nieuwendyk, Pierre Turgeon and Eric Lindros, but the builder can come from any era. The challenge for Weeks’ group is that the selection committee will have other famous names to consider, and despite Burns’ 1,019 games and 501 wins, they are not obligated to rush a selection because of a health situation.

Weeks’ group paid for the domain name www.patburns.ca and encourage people to go to that site first.


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