The Hockey Hall of Fame has no plans to expedite an induction vote by its selection committee for ailing former NHL coach Pat Burns, despite a massive grassroots campaign to have Burns inducted in the builders’ category.
Burns, who is battling several forms of terminal cancer, was admitted to a hospital outside Tampa last Sunday with pneumonia.
Nominations for this year’s induction close April 15 and in order to be considered, a person’s name must be formally put forward by one of the 18 members of the Hall of Fame selection committee. It is not known whether Burns has been nominated for this year and the Hall does not disclose the list of nominees.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss whether or not he has even been nominated,” said Bill Hay, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hay said that if Burns were nominated, a vote would not be held until the selection committee holds its annual meeting June 20-22 in Toronto. He said given Burns’ health circumstances, it’s feasible an emergency vote could be held with the permission of the Hall’s board of directors, but said such a move, “would be highly unlikely.”
Those who are inducted receive the news immediately after the meetings are concluded. This year’s induction ceremonies are scheduled for Nov. 8.
A website devoted to urging the Hall of Fame to induct Burns, patburns.ca, has attracted more than 50,000 members.
There’s little doubt Burns at least deserves to be considered for induction. He is the only coach in NHL history to win the Jack Adams Award three times since the league began naming a coach of the year in 1974, taking the honors in 1989 with the Montreal Canadiens, in 1993 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in 1998 with the Boston Bruins.
In addition to winning the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003, Burns has 501 career victories, which places him 13th on the all-time list.
His NHL winning percentage of .573 is also superior to a number of others who have been inducted into the builders’ category based solely on their coaching accomplishments – namely Dick Irvin (.557), Roger Neilson (.541), Punch Imlach (.537) and Herb Brooks (.500).