Burns' teams remember a dedicated character

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

MONTREAL -- The New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs expressed sadness Friday at the death of Pat Burns.

"On behalf of the ownership, management, staff, and players of the New Jersey Devils, we are all deeply saddened by the loss of Pat Burns," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement.

Burns coached the Devils to a Stanley Cup in 2003.

"Pat was a close friend to us all, while dedicating his life to his family and to the game of hockey," Lamoriello said. "He has been part of our family here in New Jersey for eight years. Today, the hockey world has lost a great friend and ambassador. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Line, and the entire Burns family."

Burns served as coach for the NHL franchise from 2002 to 2005.

With the Devils on Feb. 27. 2004, he became just the 11th man in NHL history to reach the 1,000 games-coached mark and was the ninth to reach the 500-win plateau on March 30, 2004.

The Canadiens noted that during his NHL coaching career, only once did Burns miss the playoffs (1999-2000 with the Bruins).

"His overall numbers speak volumes of his character and dedication," the Canadiens team statement said.

General manager Brian Burke spoke on behalf of the Maple Leafs.

"I want to convey our deepest sympathies to Pat's family, and the long list of his close friends throughout the hockey community," Burke said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of grief."

Added Cliff Fletcher, the GM during Burns' tenure with the Leafs: "Pat forged a tremendous bond, not only with a very good veteran team in Toronto, but also with Leafs fans everywhere. He commanded respect from the players, and the team quickly had great success while taking on the identity of the head coach.

"The Leafs' rise at the time was a testament to Pat's strength, toughness and determination. Hiring him 18 years ago was easily my best decision in hockey, and we developed a great friendship that I will always treasure. Pat will be greatly missed."

Burns is survived by his wife Line, his daughter, Maureen and son Jason. He died surrounded by his family at La Maison Aube-Lumière in Sherbrooke, Que. Funeral arrangements will be announced in the next few days.


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