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By Louie St. George Today at 4:48 p.m.

From Duluth News Tribune

For young rink-rats growing up in West Duluth in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Tony Burns was the guy to emulate. A big defenseman with a booming slap shot, Burns was a catalyst on some of the best hockey teams in Duluth Denfeld history.

Born into a hockey family, Burns had a knack for the sport. He polished his game on the outdoor rink at Merritt Park, eventually blossoming into a star for the Hunters. Despite his stature, Burns was more workmanlike than flashy. His teammates loved him, loved being around him — until he was ready to crank one up from the blue line.

Then they scattered.

“From what I hear, at practice a lot of guys didn’t like to be in front of the net when he had the puck back there,” current Denfeld coach Kevin Smalley said. “The shot that he had back there, just a phenomenal slap shot.”

Burns, a 1990 Denfeld graduate living in Forest Lake, Minn., died in his sleep last week. He was 43.

A father of two, Burns worked at R & R Specialties, which, fittingly, services ice arenas and resurfacers. His funeral was Tuesday in White Bear Lake, Minn.

Burns helped the Hunters reach the state tournament in 1988 and 1989. After Burns’ passing Thursday, a video from the 1989 third-place game against International Falls surfaced on Facebook. In it, Burns scores twice, both goals coming on blasts from the right circle. The Broncos goalie hardly flinched as the second one ripped past him.

“He didn’t even move and the puck was in the back of the net,” said 1991 Denfeld graduate Brett Larson, an associate head coach at Ohio State who attended Tuesday’s funeral before driving to Duluth for the Hunters’ game against Hibbing-Chisholm at Heritage Center, where a moment of silence was observed in Burns’ honor.

Larson, who went on to play at Minnesota Duluth, boosted his assist total by constantly looking for Burns on the ice.

“All the guys used to joke, ‘Hey, thank Tony for your scholarship because all you did was pass the puck over to him,’ ” Larson recalled.

Burns was a senior captain during the 1989-90 season for first-year coach Mark Krysiak. Denfeld again had a strong team, losing a heartbreaker to Cloquet in the section playoffs. Krysiak said Burns captained the way he played.

“He wasn’t the most vocal captain I ever had by any means, but when Tony spoke everyone listened,” said Krysiak, who coached the Hunters through 1996.

Krysiak described Burns as laidback and thoughtful off the ice, and “probably the best player I coached” on it.

Regardless of talent, Larson said his friend “never had an air about him.” He underscored that humility with a story about Burns being selected for the world junior team.

“Outside of the Olympics, it’s pretty much the biggest thing you can play in internationally,” Larson said. “You know that a lot of people didn’t even know he played on that. He came home, and most of those kids wear that USA hockey stuff everywhere, but I think he gave all his to his buddies. That’s how he was. He was really, really humble about how good he was.”

After high school, Burns prolonged his playing career, first at St. Cloud State and then professionally, most notably in the East Coast Hockey League. His career ultimately was cut short by injury.

Smalley, himself a 1980 graduate of Denfeld, learned of Burns’ death while the Hunters were headed to Proctor for a game against the Rails. The coach was stunned.

“Tony was an outgoing guy that everybody got along with,” Smalley said. “You just felt good being around him — he made everybody feel good. He was a joy to have as a friend.

“He certainly liked to have fun and enjoy life.”

Posted by on in Announcements


( the photo is how I remember Tony – always smiling)!!!!


With heavy heart I have to share that we lost a friend/colleague/vendor Wednesday.  Tony Burns from R and R specialties passed away at home. 

Keep Tony’s wife and two kids in your thoughts and prayers.



Funeral Arrangements are as follows:

Visitation - Monday 1/12 from 5-8pm

Mattson's Funeral Home

343 North Shore Drive

Forest Lake, MN 55025

Funeral - Visitation starts at 10:00am Service at 11:00am

Eagle Brook Church

2401 East Buffalo St

White Bear Lake, MN 55110

A fund has been set up for his family ( wife and two young children) at:

The fund is set up under:

Amanda Klinker-Burns benefit fund

US Bank

320 West Broadway

Forest Lake, MN 55025

It can be sent or go to any USBANK


Mark Vaughn

Posted by on in Uncategorized

January 2015 MIAMA Newsletter Article

Happy New Year to each of you!We are all in the thick of another busy winter skating season at our facilities. Now is a great time to be updating your opening & closing checklists, game operation checklists, open skating, open freestyle & open hockey procedures. Take time to review these documents. Are all of the items still applicable? What can be added? Do not be afraid to ask your staff for suggestions. Managers are not always around and a Saturday night close may have changed since the last time we have worked that shift. I regularly ask my staff “What am I missing?” By asking your staff, you are giving them an opportunity for input along with ownership of those documents.With the unfortunate incident with an ice resurfacer in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, now is also a great time to review your air quality procedures.  Ensure all of your staff are trained in how to test for air quality and what to do when there is a problem. If you have a non-electric machine, when is the last time it had the exhaust checked for CO/NO2? Where is that documentation and did the tester do any adjustments? Is your air quality testing equipment still working? Does it need a calibration? Do you have current tubes for your dragger or similar testing unit? These are all easy things that take a little time to make sure you have in place. Emergencies can be prevented with proper maintenance and procedures for testing the air quality.This spring we will head back to the St. Cloud area for the 2015 MIAMA Spring Workshop. We will be at the National Hockey Center on the campus of St. Cloud State University on Wednesday, May 6th. More information will be sent out in the 1st quarter of 2015. This is always a fun event with great attendance by our MIAMA membership. It is an excellent opportunity to learn valuable information and see the updates at the National Hockey Center. This year’s Spring Workshop co-chairs are Shayne Radcliff from Lakeville Arenas and Jon Jackson of Becker Arena Products. If you have any ideas for breakout sessions at this event, please let either one of them know.The MIAMA Retiree alumni group is looking for new members. This is an excellent opportunity for you to share your experience with another group of arena managers, while continuing those relationships you developed over your years of service. Please contact Walt Bruley at 218-340-0532 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested.

Have a safe holiday season!

Jon Balvance

MIAMA Board Representative

Posted by on in Announcements

December Monthly Board Member Update


By Shayne Ratcliff


Let the games begin!

High school games, youth games, tournaments, repeat…  Are you ready for another season of non-stop action at your facility?  Now is the time to double check and make sure you are prepared for whatever is thrown at you over the next four months. 

We all know that there are many types of situations that can arise that can make your facility look unprepared if your staff is not ready for it.  Broken dasher board glass, a score board failure or even a broken resurfacer are all things that take place each season which require additional training and a plan of attack.

In addition to being operationally prepared it is just as important to have a well maintained building.  I like to reference the old saying “you never have a second chance to make a first impression”; and this is no truer than in the arena business.  With the increase in out of town teams you will have many players, parents, grandparents, etc. that will be visiting your arena for the first time during high school games and youth tournaments.  I always like to take a walk through my building starting in the parking lot and working my way all the way through the restrooms and bleachers and imagine it is my first time visiting the building.  Burnt out light bulbs, broken door handles and graffiti on the walls are all things that could lead a first time visitor to wonder how long these things have been neglected and how well you really take care of your building.

Regardless of whether you host youth tournaments or high school games, take some time to review your staff preparedness and building aesthetics to ensure that everything is in order so you can showcase your facility at the highest level.