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By Louie St. George Today at 4:48 p.m.
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.”
Tony Burns Featured
( 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
Eagle Brook Church
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
320 West Broadway
Forest Lake, MN 55025
It can be sent or go to any USBANK
January 2015 MIAMA Newsletter Article
Have a safe holiday season!
MIAMA Board Representative
December Monthly Board Member Update Featured
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.
Click on the links to see these story’s:
Wisconsin Story as well