Leafs take moment of silence at ACC for Burke's son
There was a moment of silence at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night to mourn the death of Brendan Burke, the 21-year-old son of Leafs' general manager Brian Burke.
The silence was observed just before the Leafs faced off against the Ottawa Senators. The Leafs won the game 5-0, a victory they dedicated to their GM.
On Friday, the Leafs announced that the younger Burke died after a car accident in Indiana. Local police said that Brendan passed away as a result of a two-car highway crash after heavy snowfall.
Brendan and his friend Mark A. Reedy, 18, died at the scene of the accident, which happened around 2:50 p.m. Friday in Wayne County, which is near the border with Ohio.
Police said that the 2004 Jeep Cherokee in which Burke was riding spun out of control and slid into oncoming traffic, where it struck another truck.
The Leafs were informed of the death after their game in New Jersey.
The Burke family has asked for privacy to mourn the loss, and some Leafs players spoke to reporters about the death after their Saturday morning skate in Toronto.
"It's the worst news you could ever receive," Leafs forward Christian Hanson said. "I don't think there's anything that can be worse than losing a family member."
Brendan was an assistant on the University of Miami (Ohio) hockey team, and had been working towards a career in hockey management.
Toronto defenceman Francois Beauchemin remembered meeting Brendan in 2007, when both Francois and the elder Burke were part of the Anaheim Ducks' run to the Stanley Cup.
"You never think, 'that's going to happen to me,"' Beauchemin said. "But when it happens to somebody really close, like Brian, you kind of do think about it. It can happen any time, and it's really tough."
A few months ago, the Burke family made headlines when Brendan revealed that he was gay. His father also joined him for follow-up interviews in a show of support.
At the time, Brendan told TSN: "I think it's important my story is told to people because there are a lot of gay athletes out there and gay people working in pro sports that deserve to know there are safe environments where people are supportive regardless of your sexual orientation."
Brian Burke, who has been a key figure in professional hockey for years, helped rebuild the Vancouver Canucks before moving to Anaheim. Burke was hired by the Leafs to help the squad break into the playoffs this season.
Burke is also general manager of the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team, but with the Olympics less than a week away, Burke has yet to say if he will head to Vancouver or stay with his family.
With files from The Canadian Press