Bruins coach Claude Julien  took a few minutes to reflect on the late Pat Burns, who died on Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. The three-time Jack Adams  award winner and Stanley Cup  Champion in 2003 was 58.
Julien knew Burns while Julien was still playing in the AHL and Burns was coaching, but it wasn’t until the two were both “in the same coaching fraternity” that they got to know one another best.
“The one thing everybody knows about Pat was he was sincere and direct and there was no beating around the bush with him, but the part that people didn’t always see was that away from all of that was that he was a really good guy. I know that I was fortunate enough to kind of follow his path. It certainly wasn’t done purposely, but I was fortunate enough to follow his path and maybe part of that has helped me become a better coach because I had some big shoes to fill along the way.
“When Pat leaves somewhere, he’s obviously left his print. As I said, when I won the Jack Adams I was so honored to receive it from him because I consider him a friend and at the same time, my comment was ‘if I could even accomplish what you’ve accomplished, I’ll be a really happy coach.’ I mean he’s got three Jack Adams, he’s got a Stanley Cup, you know, he’s done so much.”
A former police officer, Burns was a fiery coach whom Julien said had a touch for turning teams into contenders by getting everything out of his players, no matter what the cost.
“He was a guy that didn’t always get along with every player, but every player liked him and respected him. Even the guys that he had his little run-ins with, I think eventually they came around to understand where he was coming from and that’s what you do as a coach, you do what you think is best for the player, whether it makes you popular or not.
“Sometimes it might take a player five, 10 years to realize what he was trying to do, but eventually they do and as a coach like him, all he could do was ‘I could live with the situation for now, as long as at the end it’s understood that what I was trying to do was the best for the players.’ That to me is what Pat was all about.”
Many fans who once rooted for Burns later found themselves rooting for Julien. Burns had coached all three teams Julien has coached in his career: the Canadiens, Devils, and Bruins. Julien said that his employment with former Burns’ teams isn’t as much a coincidence as one may think, as Burns esteemed Julien wherever he went.
“At one point, Pat, when he was here [in Boston], I think they were looking for a coach in Providence and Pat asked them to interview me,” Julien said. “I think Pat always had a good word. I went to New Jersey and there’s no doubt that Lou [Lamoriello] talked to him at some point, and so I had Pat’s support, obviously. He always had a good word to say about me, which certainly helped to make me follow his path, to a certain extent, so that’s why I guess, I’m grateful to him. I think, at the same time, I’m grateful to him also for leaving such big shoes to fill to push me to be the best coach I can be.”