STANSTEAD, Que. – Ten months after his death, a legendary coach has an arena in his name.
The Pat Burns Arena was officially opened Sunday in Stanstead, a border town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
Burns’ widow Line was joined at the ceremony by old hockey friends including former coach Jacques Demers and former players Henri Richard, Guy Carbonneau and Patrice Brisebois.
An ailing Burns said last year he didn’t expect to live until the arena was complete.
“I probably won’t see the project to the end, but let’s hope I’m looking down on it and see a young Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux,” he said in March 2010.
The three-time NHL coach of the year died last Nov. 19 after a long battle with cancer.
The federal and Quebec governments together pledged two-thirds of the roughly $8-million cost, while the city of Stanstead raised the rest through donations and charity auctions.
The arena was built on the campus of Stanstead College and will be used not only by the private school but also by residents in the Quebec-Vermont border region.
The arena fundraising efforts took a heartbreaking turn when memorabilia that was to be auctioned off was stolen from his widow’s SUV only days after Burns’ death.
The old coach had barely been laid to rest on Nov. 29 when thieves stole the personal belongings, including about 30 autographed NHL jerseys. At least 12 of those jerseys were recovered.