MLSE steps up for Burke

Leaf GM Brian Burke's son Brendan was remembered before first period action between the Leafs and...

Leaf GM Brian Burke's son Brendan was remembered before first period action between the Leafs and the Sens on Saturday. (QMI Agency/Dave Abel)

IAN ROBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Leafs General Manager Brian Burke and his youngest son’s body arrived in Massachusetts while the team was trouncing the Ottawa Senators in Toronto.

"We pulled some strings," son Patrick told The Toronto Sun, as the family prepared for a funeral Tuesday, which is expected to fill a church with up to 1,000 seats.

"We picked up Brendan and Brian," he said, after Toronto Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment arranged Saturday for a private jet to bring the accident victim to the family. Brendan Burke and a friend were killed in a traffic mishap Friday on a snow-whipped Indiana highway.

A funeral mass for the 21-year-old university senior and Redhawks hockey team student manager will be at St. John the Evangelist Church, in the Boston suburb of Canton, Mass.

"We're anticipating a large number of people," said Brian Fitzgerald, owner of the Dockray & Thomas Funeral home. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing.

"The family is very well known in our town," which has 21,000 residents, Fitzgerald added. "All the children went to school here.

"I've known Brendan since he was a kid," he said. "It's tough."

Molly Burke, 18, said her brother made friends "within minutes of meeting someone, even the gruffest. There was something so endearing about him.

"Passionate about hockey" and the game's statistics, she said he could also play pickup games "with anyone he met within five minutes."

Molly said Brendan "loved to travel," and visited Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, Peru and Spain.

Keen on studying law, but divided between hockey administration or politics, he worked last summer in Washington, as a Massachusetts congressman's intern, she said, adding: "He was going places."

Molly knew little of Mark Reedy, the passenger who died in the crash, other than he was "just a friend."

While driving to Oxford, Ohio, for a Redhawks home game, Brendan’s SUV was broadsided by a truck.

Reedy, 18, died instantly, Wayne County coroner Kevin Fouche said. Brendan’s lower skull and neck injuries soon proved fatal.

Sheriff's deputies are still investigating the only fatal crash among 151 collisions that day.

"That stretch can be dangerous in bad weather," dispatcher John Duke said Sunday of two-lane U.S. Hwy. 35.

Brian Zimmerman, a Palladium-Item reporter in nearby Richmond, said "it was an absolutely insane day."

Brian Burke and his second wife Jennifer, live in Toronto with daughters Mairin, 5, and Fiona "Gracie" Burke, 4, who Brendan recently visited.


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