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Pat Burns' family pleads for return of stolen mementos
Thieves broke into the car of Pat Burns' widow Tuesday, just hours after the NHL coaching legend was laid to rest, stealing family photos, personal effects and hockey memorabilia.
Even the bed sheets from the palliative-care unit where Burns spent his final days were taken from Line Burns' car in the early morning theft, police said Tuesday.
The break-in occurred in the early morning hours Tuesday, soon after mourners gathered at a Montreal church on Monday to remember Burns, who passed away Nov. 19 after a long battle with cancer.
Const. Anie Lemieux, of Montreal police, said the thieves made off with valuables including 30 autographed hockey jerseys, jewelry, a Movado watch, an iPad, and clothing belonging to Pat and Line Burns.
And they knew exactly whose vehicle they were robbing, Lemieux said.
"They went through his stuff," she said. "The person who left with the shirts and everything knows that this is Pat Burns' stuff."
Robin Burns, who delivered the eulogy for his cousin, called the theft "deplorable."
He said the late coach's widow had already had a tough day Monday. "Then to have personal effects taken out of your car (after the) funeral reception is absolutely deplorable," he said. "Whoever it is, they must have no conscience."
He pleaded with the thieves, if they have "any type of conscience," to leave the items with a TV or radio station or with anyone who knows Burns and promised no questions will be asked.
"I'd only say to anyone listening, if you think you can sell them or do anything about them, then I think the police and the policemen's brotherhood and friends of Pat might have different ideas."
The late coach's son Jason also urged the thieves to return the items -- especially the hockey jerseys which were to be auctioned off for charity.
"It's a good thing to bring it back so we can do the job we wanted to do with the shirts," the late coach's son, Jason Burns, told The Canadian Press. "There were a bunch of hockey jerseys that were going to foundations for needy people."
The break-in happened in an outdoor parking lot between midnight and 9 a.m. Tuesday as the Burns clan and family friends were attending a wake in a downtown bar after the funeral.
Police have launched a public appeal to the thieves, pointing out that the stolen goods will be nearly impossible to sell and asking them to instead leave them in an agreed-upon spot so thay can be returned to the Burns family.
"Anyone with information or that might be approached by someone wanting to sell these items, it's impossible not to know that these belong to Mr. Pat Burns," Lemieux said, noting she believed some of the items were destined for charity auction.
Originally a police officer in Gatineau, Que., Burns moved from coaching minor hockey to the NHL in the 1980s.
He would eventually coach NHL teams in Montreal, Toronto, Boston and later in New Jersey where he guided his team to a Stanley Cup in 2002.
In total, Burns won 501 games as NHL coach.
With files from The Canadian Press