The world of hockey was devastated to hear the news about the tragic death of Brendan Burke, son of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. It was Friday night, and I was just finishing up a crisis call I was dispatched to. I had to tend to a family that just lost a love one to a heart attack, and witnesses their heartache for about two hours. As I sat there, holding back my own tears, I then saw a message sent to my phone breaking the news of Brendan’s death. In an instant, I felt complete sadness. To say I was shocked was an understatement. The article that was written about Brandon was still fresh in my mind, and I was just talking about how proud Brian Burke must be to walk in the opening ceremonies as the proud American he’s always professed to be. I then started wondering, why is it people have huge highs in life, only to then have complete and utter lows.
I could not help it but to think of my father who died over 10 years ago, and like a fresh cut, I could feel my wound open up. I thought back to the days when Burke was in Anaheim and how he made it known he had to leave to be with his family. I thought Burke was a great father for making that his main priority. I thought about how close I was with my father, and how he always worried about my safety. Details of Brendan’s death were still sketchy and there was not much information until the next morning. Apparently Brendan died in an auto accident when the car he was driving slid into oncoming traffic due to snowy conditions. I remembered one time when I crashed in high school. I called my father to the scene to pick me up, and when he got there all I could think of was how mad he was going to be. When he arrived on scene, he walked right up to me, and as I formed the words to say I was sorry, he grabbed me and hugged me and said he was scared something bad had happened to me. I realized then and there, that my father actually got scared for the first time. I cannot begin to imagine Brian Burke’s reaction to the news of his son’s passing. It is a parent’s worse nightmare, and one that Brian Burke and his family are experiencing.
This weekend, the world of hockey stood together in solidarity for a family member. And forgive me for forgetting where I read this, but someone else came up with this and said that today, every team removes their logos from their chests, and puts down the hockey sticks in honor of Brendan Burke. I could not agree more. I would like to dedicate this Sunday’s column to Brendan Burke and his bravery as a human being, and as a loving son. May you rest in peace forever.