ST. LOUIS - Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke made his first public comments Friday about son Brendan's death last week in a car accident.
Brendan, a senior at Miami University and advocate for gay rights, was killed Feb. 5 in Indiana after his car slid sideways into the path of another car on a snowy road. Burke's friend, 18-year-old Mark Reedy, also died in the accident.
"Obviously, last week's been incredibly sad and difficult," Burke, also the U.S. Olympic team GM, said before the Maple Leafs played the Blues. "I've been working all day trying to get through this without breaking down too much.
"You get the call you never want. It's not supposed to be this way. Your kids are supposed to bury you. It was compounded by the fact that Brendan was a special kid. Not too many 21-year-olds had blazed a trail like that. He had a huge heart, had a great future in it, and I promised that his message will live on.
"It was also compounded by the fact that another young man, Mark Reedy, was also involved in the accident, it was compounded by the fact that it was a sudden death. It's been a very difficult week, a very incredibly sad time."
Burke was scheduled to travel to Vancouver on Saturday for the Olympics. He said his decision to skip the opening ceremonies was easy.
"I wanted to thank the (Leafs) players. I wanted to be here and I met with the players individually and thanked them and the coaches," Burke said. "I felt I should be here. I shouldn't be celebrating the start of the Olympics. We'll start worrying about the Olympics tomorrow. I didn't have it in me. It would have been too tough to do. As proud as I would have been to be there, it would have been an impostor's act. It would have been a person there that's not focused at all."