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Just a few yards from northern Vermont, there is a high school called Stanstead College in the Village of Stanstead, Quebec. While it is not a college, it is a long time educational institution that also has a beautiful hockey arena
named after longtime NHL coach Pat Burns.
Pat Burns Arena is a special place to me, and not just because it honors my late friend's memory.
Back in 2011, I had the honor of reffing the first game played at the Pat Burns Arena. Five years later, my sons McCauley and Max donned Stanstead uniforms to play in a four-day, three-team tournament featuring teams from Burlington and Guelph, Ontario. I had the pleasure of officiating four games. The coaches, Dan Poliziani (a former Yale player) along with his assistants Matt Thompson, goaltending coach, and strength coach Patrick Colombo ran a first class camp under the direction of James Rioux, the Director of Hockey Operations for the school.
I was struck immediately by the appearance of the dressing room. It was immaculate in its upkeep -- reflecting respect, discipline and commitment to the team and the sport. Over the locker stalls, there's a quote from Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
While Pat himself was not the type to roll out quotes from ancient Greek philosophers, he'd most definitely have related to the message and be pleased by the upkeep of the locker room. Four things that were very important to Pat Burns as a coach were good work habits, respect, discipline and bringing out the excellence within players.
Another special memory: a wonderful cookout on the Stanstead College green with all of the participants in the hockey camp. Hockey people are great company.
This past year, I was asked if I could help out in trying to raise funds for a much-needed new scoreboard/ game clock for the Pat Burns Arena. I have been reaching out to NHL teams to see if their GMs and/or community departments are willing to donate. They can also use support from fans.
Perhaps you are a fan of one of the NHL teams that Pat coached. Thankfully, there were a lot of those because people could only stand that guy for so long despite the immaculate ties that his wife would pick out for him. I am only kidding; Pat would give me that half-smirk of his if he were here to read it. All joking aside, Pat Burns was an excellent coach for the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Bruins and Devils, with two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals and a Cup victory with the Devils in 2002-03. He gave his all to his teams, to the game and to life itself.
Even if you had no rooting interest in Pat's teams, one has to respect (there's that word again) the legacy he brought to the game. As tough as Pat was, he was a smart hockey man and brought a lot of character and integrity. He and the arena at Stanstead that bears his name represent the traits of hockey at its best.
I see symbolic meaning in assisting the campaign for funding "Burnsie's clock" at the arena. In hockey, we live by a clock both on and off the ice. On the ice, our actions are directly affected by the time and score. Off the ice, regimentation is very much clock-dictated. Be punctual, stay on your routine. The rhythms of the game itself, and of one's life cycle within the game, is almost like a silently "ticking" clock -- and the hours at the rink are the best times of your life.
For more information about donating to the Pat Burns Arena's four-sided score-clock procurement, click here
. Donations are tax deductible.
A 2018 inductee into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.
Visit Paul's official websites, YaWannaGo.com and Officiating by Stewart.