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Shame on the Hockey Hall of Fame: Pat Burns Passed Over Again

As stated in this post by Tom Gulitti, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced their 2011 induction class today: Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mark Howe, and Ed Belfour will all be added this year. There is one name missing, however, Pat Burns. He was not named to be inducted. In fact, per Gulitti's post, no one will be inducted as a builder in 2011. Per this tweet from Gulitti, this is the first time no builder will be inducted since 1981.

Simply put, this is ridiculous.

After all, he's the only head coach to have ever won the Jack Adams trophy with three different teams: Montreal in 1989, Toronto in 1993, and Boston in 1998. In his career, he won 501 games in 1,019 games with four different teams, won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003, and only cancer kept him from adding to his record in New Jersey. Making the feat more impressive is that Burns was never a "hockey guy." He was originally a police officer, he never played in the NHL. He broke through into coaching at the youth level, eventually ending up with Hull in the QMJHL for 3 seasons, one season with Sherbrooke in the AHL, and then given a shot by Montreal. Burns wasn't a former player who just transitioned into another part of the game. He earned his way up the proverbial ladder, and he managed to get success with a no-nonsense attitude.

Last year, it wasn't an unheard of notion for Pat Burns to be added into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder. As an example, Greg Wyshynski noted the momentum in the "Get Burns into the Hall" notion back in March 2010 in this post at Puck Daddy. In it, he quotes Lou and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in supporting the notion; and he cites the key achivements that should get him in the Hall. As a second example, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN makes his own case for wanting to see Burns in the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, as we know, that didn't happen. In June, per this post by Rich Chere, he was not elected despite pressure to make it happen before he succumbed to cancer. In this reaction post at Puck Daddy, Wyshynski quoted Larry Brooks' ire at the Hall for not inducting Burns. For additional takes by other hockey writers at the time, this post by PPP at Pension Plan Puppets is as good of a collection as you'll find. All of which are shocked and unhappy that Burns didn't get in 2010. On the November 19, the day Pat Burns passed away from cancer, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News argued that he would eventually get in and decried the "old boys' network" that makes the selections for the Hall of Fame. The same network that figured that they didn't care whether Burns lived long enough to see him inducted.

So what does that "old boys' network" do today? Snub Pat Burns again. This is terrible. On top of that, they name no other builders. Is the secretive and unaccountable HHOF selection committee serious? No builders? Not only did Burns not get selected, but nobody else earned their favor to be installed as a builder this year? Not Fred Shero? Not Clare Drake (Bruce McCurdy has an excellent explanation of who he is and how important he is at Cult of Hockey)? That no one was inducted just makes Burns' snub more of a slap in the face since there was no one else to take any builder spots - if such a thing even exists.

Shame. There is no other word to describe the Hall of Fame refusing to induct a deserving candidate like Pat Burns, much less any other deserving builders of the game. We can take solace in the fact we don't need the blessing of some group of people to know that Pat Burns is and will be remembered as a legend. Maybe one day, the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee will get their heads out of their collective behinds and realize what we all know.