TORONTO — A few months ago, Line Burns was driving to see a friend and stopped in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, where she used to live with her husband.
She was gassing up her car and getting something to eat when her phone rang. On the other end were Pat Quinn and John Davidson from the Hockey Hall of Fame telling her that Pat Burns would finally be enshrined four years after his death.
“It was meant to be,” she said. “He was probably laughing up there.”
Line recalled recently how she and her husband used to laugh so much at home. She couldn’t help but laugh that night when a video montage of Burns’ best and angriest coaching moments were shown on the video screens at Air Canada Centre.
Those included him winning the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, yelling at referees and going after Barry Melrose.
“I’m sure it wasn’t fun at that time,” Line said, “but it was hilarious.”
Burns goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday along with Dominik Hasek, Peter Forsberg, Mike Modano, Rob Blake and referee Bill McCreary.
Before his death, Pat talked to his wife about the Hall of Fame.
“It was something like, ‘I hope I’ll get in one day, and if I get one day, I hope you’re going to be there to represent me,’ ” she said.
There’s some quiet anger that the selection committee didn’t get it done before Burns died of cancer on Nov. 19, 2010. But more than anything else there’s relief and joy that the coach is getting his due.
“In addition to being a great coach, he was widely respected throughout the hockey world for being a terrific person,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday.