Toronto Mike

Brendan Burke, Dead at 21

Brendan Burke

The 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.

Author image
About Toronto Mike
I own TMDS and host Toronto MIke'd. Become a Patron.