Pat Burns Snubbed By Hockey Hall of Fame

I started this morning off like I do most others during the week as I checked in with my cousin over gchat. When the topic turned to the afternoon's pending Hall of Fame announcement. While we both hope Doug Gilmour would be inducted we knew it was important that Pat Burns get the nod. We'd both lamented Pat Burns declining health over the past year as he fought his third battle with cancer especially as his physical state began to mirror her late father's. To look at him is to be transported back two years to an extremely difficult time. We agreed that he deserved to be honoured for his achievements while he could share the honour with his family. It's a sentiment that is obviously spread far and wide.

Somehow, some way, the selection committee made an unpardonable mistake. There is no doubt that Pat Burns is a Hall of Fame coach. He is the only coach that has won the Jack Adams three times with three different teams. Think about just how incredible of a coach you have to be to accomplish that feat. He added a Stanley Cup in 2003 in New Jersey as well as 501 wins and over 1000 games coached. He would have added to those totals if his third bout of cancer had not been too much for him. And here's a fact courtesy of Twitter:

Pat Burns didn't coach a single team that he didn't win a Jack Adams or a Stanley Cup with.

- @BillMorran4

Eight years after the Hockey Hall of Fame made the right decision with regard to Roger Neilson when he was in the process of sadly losing his battle with cancer. How could they possibly get it so wrong this year? Needless to say, the reaction has been unequivocal in damning the selections made.

Join me after the jump to see some rage and confusion

First off, this has nothing to do with the inductions of Angela James and Cammi Granato. It is the Hockey Hall of Fame and those two woman had major impacts on the woman's game and are chosen in a separate category. Congratulations to them. However, the players' category was a mess, that's a whole other topic, but it was the Pat Burns snub that really rankled. I think that what might be more frustrating is make up of the members of the committee. These are respected hockey men and for them to be so tone-deaf is unbelievable.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the Hall of Fame selection proceedings was the decision in the builder category. The committee voted to ignore Pat Burns, one of the finest coaches of his generation and a man battling cancer, in favor of longtime Detroit executive Jim Devellano and Daryl "Doc" Seaman, one of the founding owners of the Calgary Flames who died in January 2009. Is there not a shred of humanity on the selection committee? How sad will it be if Pat Burns is gone by time the Hall decides to honor him?

 We have all kinds of time for Devellano. But how does a decision like this happen? How do you induct Devellano ahead of Burns or, say, groundbreaking Philadelphia coach Fred Shero? And why is there a nod now for Seaman, whose sphere of influence was limited strictly to Calgary?

- Scott Burnside, ESPN.com

Excellent example of how incredibly flawed the process is for selcting inductees. 

In a phone interview with NHL FanHouse, longtime Hall of Fame selection committee member Bill Torrey acknowledged the outcry of criticism from hockey executives, players and media members who felt Burns was snubbed in a most insensitive fashion.

"For anyone to think that our thoughts were not with Pat Burns is unfair," said Torrey, the former general manager of the New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s and currently a governor with the Florida Panthers. "Committee members are not allowed to speak about the process and give specific details on the voting, but I want to make clear that Pat was certainly on our minds."

- Christopher Botta, AOL FanHouse

That is an absolutely laughable remark by Torrey. If Pat Burns is a Hall of Fame coach and you know that he is ill with terminal cancer why would you not put him in now? The NFL process features a reporter making the case for a player in front of the voting committee. Maybe that small change and a bit of common sense could have prevented this debacle.

As for Devellano and Seaman, congratulations, but in the builder category, Pat Burns is a simply inexcusable omission. It is baffling.

It would be baffling even if Burns were not dwindling away due to a terminal case of lung cancer, because he is worthy on merit alone. He won a Stanley Cup, and nobody else has won three coach of the year trophies, much less with three different teams. Only three other coaches have won with even two different teams since the Jack Adams was first awarded in 1973.

But because Burns is dying, it is even worse. He belongs in the Hall, and may not live to see the day. On Tuesday, Seaman’s son Bob accepted the honour for his father. Some day, one of Burns’ children may have to do the same, and it will be a badge of shame on the Hockey Hall of Fame.

- Bruce Arthur, National Post

The point that was missed by those that couldn't wrap their heads around the outrage is that Burns is a Hall of Famer. That's always been true and will never change. Why delay? Why court such outrage?

We can't recall backlash at these levels, spread over several "overlooked" candidates. We advocated Burns' induction, and still do; we also believe that at least two other NHL players (with Nieuwendyk being one of them) should have joined Ciccarelli as Hockey Hall of Fame honorees. 

The selection committee obviously disagreed. Pity its decision, and the reaction, has obscured the worth of this latest Hall of Fame class. 

- Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy

No kidding. Twitter lit up with instant reaction and, in a bit of a change, the visceral reactions were not restricted to fans:

Sad, head-scratching, downright pathetic that selection commitee denied Pat Burns entry to Hall of Fame.

- @ChrisBottaNHL

Would love to hear committee member explain how Pat Burns was not elected to the HoF. Stand up.

- @ChrisBottaNHL

No credibility. No heart. Every member of HHOF selection committee who did not vote for Pat Burns should identify himself and explain why.

- @NYP_Brooksie

Pat Burns' record makes him worthy. As does Fred Shero's. But not according to the cabal that does its business in secret.

- @NYP_Brooksie

Miffed Pat Burns didn't get the call for the Hall. Even without his special circumstances Burns was worthy of admission to the Hall of Fame.

- @kausatoday

Not inducting Pat Burns: utter bullshit.

- @bruce_arthur

No Pat Burns for the HOF this year? That's an abomination. Electors should be ashamed of themselves. Absolutely disgusting.

- @Forechecker

Can't believe Pat Burns was left out of HHOF.Knowing he will one day is not the same, it would mean so much to him now to share with family.

- @sens2win

Saddens me to no end that Pat Burns didn't get inducted to the HHF. He had the pre-reqs and the induction couldn't have been more timely.

- @anma81

Every single HHOF member who did not put Pat Burns where he belongs this year should go jump off a cliff. Despicable.

- @nikpanter

What possible reason could the Hockey Hall Of Fame Committee have for not selecting Pat Burns for induction?

- @JayOnrait

Pat Burns belongs in the Hall of Fame NOW!

- @walsha

Still can't believe Pat Burns didn't make it into the Hall this year. 3 Jacks and a Stanley sure doesn't buy much anymore.

- @JeffMarek

Obviously, as a Leafs fan, this snub hits closer to home than the average fan. Pat Burns came to Toronto and put a stake through the Harold Ballard Era. It's a team that Leafs fans uniformly remember fondly and Pat Burns feels the same way. As a final reminder of his greatness, here's his acceptance speech in 1993. God willing, we'll get to see his Hall of Fame infuction speech.

 

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