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RIP Brendan Burke

Please excuse the non-Red Wings post, but it can’t go unnoticed.

This afternoon, Brian Burke’s son, Brendan, was killed in a car accident. He was 21-years-old and a pioneer for gay rights in hockey, sports, and life in general. A bit of my heart broke hearing the news – and I never met the man.

If you haven’t already, please read this ESPN article about Brendan’s fight. If you’ve already read it, read it again.

I’m not homosexual myself, but a great many of my closest friends are. Seeing firsthand how they’re treated makes my heart hurt for them, and reading Brendan Burke’s story was inspiring and beautiful — no matter which side of a political or ideological debate you stand on. I’ve long hated Brian Burke “the mogul,” but after reading the article and seeing the solidarity he had with his son, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Brian Burke “the man and father.”

To think that there are no gay hockey players would be incredibly short-sighted. If you’re going by averages alone, every locker room in the NHL has two or three homosexual men in it. Here’s hoping that one day, they don’t have to keep it from everyone. And when they don’t, they can thank Brendan Burke.

My deepest condolences, and those of The Production Line as a whole, are with the friends and family of Brendan Burke.

8 thoughts on “RIP Brendan Burke”

  1. Jennemy of the Skate

    Thank you for this post Michael. My heart breaks for Brendan, his friend who died with him, and their families. Life is very unfair sometimes. I hope that you are right, that some day, gay professional atheletes won't have to hide who they are.

  2. I'm glad you posted this and who cares if it's not Wings-related. I read the Buccigross story when it first came out and I can't imagine how anyone who did wasn't touched by it. It's always heartbreaking when someone so young dies, but especially so in this case, since as you said, it felt like we knew him a little.

    In a world where so many people are afraid to stand for anything, he wasn't. RIP Brendan.

  3. Very sad. I would have loved to see what else he did with his life in general and in furthering tolerance in hockey.

    For all Brian Burke's bluster, this is one thing that he can't talk away. He must be crushed.

  4. Well said. Thank you for writing this. Hockey is just a game,after all, and this a terrible loss. Brendan Burke was and still is,even in death, someone to be admired.

  5. I am still recovering from Buccigross's article. I am still wiping the tears from my eyes. Thank you for this post. It's not Wings related, but hockey/life-changing related.
    It makes me sad that in America, there is still a group of people being blatantly discriminated against. My hope is through this tragedy, that some bigoted minds are changed. My thoughts are with the Burke family. And Brian Burke just shot up to #1 on my coolness list. He went to a pride parade with his son. Awesome.

  6. And Brian Burke just shot up to #1 on my coolness list. He went to a pride parade with his son. Awesome.

    I think that will be the key in breaking through the taboo about homosexuality. It's easy for anyone to say that they would be uncomfortable with a homosexual person in the locker room with them, or in the military barracks, or an apartment complex or workplace or whatever when they are just picturing some vague hypothetical person.

    I think the first athlete who comes out as openly gay while playing will be someone who is already established, so teammates and fans and media and everyone already have him established in their minds as a particular kind of player and person, so his homosexuality will be one more item to add to the picture, and not the most overriding thing.

    Instead of being "Brendan the gay hockey player" he will be "Brendan, the talented sniper, ten year veteran, leading goal-scorer on the team, well-respected in the community, known for delivering in the playoffs – oh, and by the way, he's also gay."

    It's a small shift in perception, but I think it will be a huge change in perception and make it easier for everyone who follows him until eventually with most people it won't be a big deal to have a homosexual player on the team; some people will still be uncomfortable, but there are still people who don't like working with those of other races, or with women, so some people are always going to tend toward intolerance.

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