Heady times for '93 Leafs

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Looking surprisingly fresh for a man undergoing chemotherapy, former Maple Leafs coach Pat Burns just couldn't stop smiling last night.

Stuffed into a private box at the Air Canada Centre, Burns joined about 17 members of the 1992-93 Maple Leafs for a reunion of the team that fell just one win shy of a date in the final against the Montreal Canadiens.

"We are having so many laughs in there," a jovial Burns said. "Those guys all thought they were pulling the wool over my eyes and getting away with things but I always knew what they were up to."

Saying he feels "great," Burns reiterated his comments from last month that he would like to coach in the NHL again.

"All these jobs open, and no one has called me," he said.

It has been tough slogging the past few years for Burns, who used to patrol the streets of Hull, Que., during his stint as a no-nonsense cop.

Those days must seem like a walk in the park compared to the battle he has fought against cancer.

Diagnosed with colon cancer in 2004, Burns appeared to be on the road to recovery when he discovered last summer that it had spread to his liver.

"I'll fight this," he said.

Despite leading the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup title in 2003, Burns to this day still considers the '92-93 Leafs as one of "the most special teams I've ever been around."

The reunion was the brainchild of former captain Wendel Clark, who began phoning his former coaches and teammates with the idea about two months ago.

The idea was such a hit, they came from far and wide to attend.

Take Mike Kitchen's situation, for example.

Having been fired as head coach of the St. Louis Blues on Monday, Kitchen was hosting some family friends at his

St. Louis home when he decided that he would make the journey.

"I had my wife book my ticket to Toronto at about

2 a.m.," said Kitchen, an assistant coach to Burns on the '92-93 team. "I just thought, 'What the heck, it will be a good time.' "

Kent Manderville may have won the award for travelling the furthest, coming in from Finland where he now plays his hockey.

"It's just so great to see everyone, especially Pat," former Leafs captain Doug Gilmour said. "That was a special team."

Among the others in attendance were Dave Ellett, Felix Potvin, Todd Gill, Dave Andreychuk, Dmitri Mironov, John Cullen, former assistant coach Mike Murphy and former GM Cliff Fletcher.

"It was a team that captured the spirits of the city," Fletcher said. "At the same time, it was very disappointing that we didn't get further than we did."

Even so, the memories of that squad were enough to keep Pat Burns smiling well into the night.


Videos

Photos