Just Days After Son Brendan Burke Died, Brian Was There For Team USA. And Decided to Become a Hero

Brian Burke, the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the proud father of recently deceased Brendan, carried the torch of his son’s spirit with him to Vancouver, where Brendan was born. That’s a big deal, because Brian is also the general manager of Team USA (which tonight faces Canada for gold at the 2010 Olympics), and Brian had made a commitment to be there. Not only did he honor that obligation, he used it to honor his son’s memory. Brian might be known for trading barbs off the ice, but when it comes to his gay son, and the importance of gay rights, he’s a class act.

“Lincoln lost a son in the White House. So did Jefferson Davis in the Confederacy. They didn’t go home. They finished the job. USA Hockey didn’t ask me to do this on the basis of, Will you do this if your personal life allows it?” That was Brian, describing why he was in Vancouver just days after his son’s death. And how everything changed.

After Brendan publicly revealed his sexual preference, Brian was flooded with requests to do advocacy work on behalf of gays. He told the groups that while he supported his son, he had other causes: land conservation, blood donation and children’s literacy. He didn’t want to dilute that work. This, too, changed on that Friday in February. Brendan’s causes are Brian’s now. He will do a public-service announcement aimed at eliminating the bullying of gay children. And he plans to march in the Toronto Pride Parade. “I’d promised him I would march with him,” says Burke, who briefly left the Olympics last Friday to attend a memorial service for Brendan at Miami of Ohio. “He won’t be there, but I will.”

March on, pops.

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  • Tim W

    Actually the article is incorrect. The US team plays today in the semi-finals against Finland. They have no won the gold(yet).

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    Brendan Burke would have been proud of his Dad, Brian. What a tragedy for the families of both the very young men killed in the car crash!

  • Jon B

    Dewey Defeats Truman!

    They still have 2 games to play to see if they medal at all… Let alone win gold. I would love if they won, for the sole reason that I think it would be a touching tribute to Brendan, but they haven’t won yet. They beat Canada 5-3 which gave them a spot in the semi-finals.

  • Michael W.

    Lol, who writes these things?

  • Rodrigo

    They do not face Canada tonight for gold. They face Finland tomorrow. If they win that game they face off against the winner of the Canada-Slovakia match . If they win that match then they win gold. Jumping the gun a little, eh?

  • Joseph

    The gold game is on sunday! the ladies play tonight for gold! Why is queerty so bad at fact checking?

  • Jon

    sheesh. . .it’s the Women tonight, which will be quite a matchup. . .another #queertyfail. The heart is in the right place, but once again, a damned google search and silly “facts” that get in the way before hitting that enter key.

  • terrwill

    This one bears repeating……………

    “I had a million good reasons to love and admire Brendan. This news didn’t alter any of them.

    I would prefer Brendan hadn’t decided to discuss this issue in this very public manner. There will be a great deal of reaction, and I fear a large portion will be negative. But this takes guts, and I admire Brendan greatly, and happily march arm in arm with him on this.

    There are gay men in professional hockey. We would be fools to think otherwise. And it’s sad that they feel the need to conceal this. I understand why they do so, however.

    Can a gay man advance in professional hockey? He can if he works for the Toronto Maple Leafs! Or for Miami University Hockey. God bless Rico Blasi! And I am certain these two organizations are not alone here.

    I wish this burden would fall on someone else’s shoulders, not Brendan’s. Pioneers are often misunderstood and mistrusted. But since he wishes to blaze this trail, I stand beside him with an axe! I simply could not be more proud of Brendan than I am, and I love him as much as I admire him.” — Brian Burke

    What a damm shame, Brendan was a perfect role model for Gay youth. You can be the son of a hypermasculine NHL coach who had no idea you were Gay. And then when you do summon the courage to utter the most difficult words ever to come out of your mouth he is fully accepting. In light of this context this article about Brendans comming out has been sadly transformed into a mega tearjerker:


  • sal(the original)

    awwwww *tears*

  • Lukas P.

    @terrwill: “I stand beside him with an axe” made me tear up bigtime. Talk about fierce….

    What’s not to be forgotten is that Mr Brian Burke was so damn honest about his own misgivings on Brendan’s publicly coming out, and his story of his coming around to fully support his son is one often just glossed over by the PFLAG moms and dads. I love them, yet, sometimes their stories are “too perfect” and don’t resonate with parents who are still grieving about their lost hopes/dreams of John marrying a nice girl, or Jenny a good husband.

    Brian’s actions and commitment to the GBL community are a testament to his love for his son. Plus, he’s one hell of a coach.

    Go USA hockey! [men’s and women’s teams]

  • Johnny

    This is a great heart-warming story – but why the bitchiness to correct some errors about the game to muck up the comments?

    The thrust of this story is about the coach who just lost his son, for christ’s sake, and his wonderful commitment to the cause that we all have embraced.

    what’s wrong with some of you?

  • terrwill

    @Lukas P.: Lukas, Massive co-sign on that one, the waterworks went on big time………To have a hypermasculine jock defend his son so damm strongly was simply amazing. Brendan had tremendous courage acomplished a lot of good in his way too short life……. Rest well in peace…….

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