Brendan Burke, Dead at 21

Brendan BurkeThe news hit me tonight like a tonne of bricks. Brian Burke's son, Brendan, had succumbed to injuries he suffered in an auto accident. Brendan was only 21-years old.

The first thing I thought of was my James. I'm sure all fathers can relate to this reaction. I felt the extraordinary love I have for my son, and realized that's how Brian felt about Brendan. Even thinking about losing my son hurt so much I cannot fathom the sadness Brian is feeling. My thoughts are with the Burke family at this hour.

In November, there was quite a bit of coverage here in Toronto about Brian Burke coming out in support of his openly gay son Brendan. I purposely didn't write about that story. Instead, I wrote about the Leafs win over the Lightning. In the comments of that entry, someone asked me why I didn't write about Brian and Brendan. Here's what I wrote.

Brian Burke's son is gay. Brian Burke supports and loves his son regardless. That's how it should be. There's no story there.

As a father, I was seeing it from Brian's vantage point. I didn't want Brian's love and support of Brendan to be a story. I didn't want that to be newsworthy. I wanted that to be commonplace, unexceptional and completely expected.

In retrospect, I should have seen it from Brendan's vantage point. There was in fact a story there. Brendan showed a great deal of courage, coming out as a homosexual male while pursuing a hockey career as the son of a hard nosed "tough guy". Brendan was the inspiring story, not Brian. I was wrong.

That day, I recapped the hockey game instead of giving Brendan the credit he deserved. Tonight, for the first time in almost a decade, I'm not recapping a Leafs game. Instead, I honour Brendan's memory.

Rest in peace, Brendan.

Share this entry

Comments (7 - click here to join in!)


I was extremely saddened to hear this news. My God i have no clue what Brian Burke is going through right now. I really don't even want to imagine it.

RIP Brendan. God Bless.

February 6, 2010 @ 12:42 AM


rest in peace

so sad

February 6, 2010 @ 12:43 AM

Donna Vitan

I was pretty bummed to hear this news.

February 6, 2010 @ 9:03 AM


My brother passed away many years ago at an early age & will never forget the emotion both physically & mentally it had on my parents having to bury their son.

Brian has TOO much going on now, GM of Leafs, GM of Team USA & now this tragedy.

My condolences to the Burke family & keep strong.

February 6, 2010 @ 9:54 AM

Can't imagine the grief the Bruke family is going through.

I'm sure they'll be some kind of moment honouring the memory of Brendan tonight at the game.

R.I.P Brendan

February 6, 2010 @ 11:46 AM


Initial comment was to make a statement only.

TOO bad with circumstances yesterday.

My sympathy to the Burke family.

February 6, 2010 @ 5:29 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

My thoughts and sympathy go out to Brian Burke, Hockey takes a distant place behind life in this situation

February 6, 2010 @ 6:59 PM

Leave a comment

Only 7 comments? C'mon, we can do better... Leave a comment above and let's keep this conversation going!

« 13-Year Old QB Commits to USC What Your Web Browser Says About You »