"On behalf of the entire Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment family, we extend out heartfelt condolensces to the family and friends of Brian Burke," said Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment CEO Richard Peddie in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burke family during this extremely difficult time."
The accident occurred during snowy conditions when Brendan Burke lost control of his Jeep Grand Cherokee and the vehicle crashed head on with another car. Brendan's friend Mark Reedy, the only passenger in the Jeep, was also killed. Reedy was 18. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured.
"The National Hockey League grieves tonight for the family and
friends of Brendan Burke, a young man of courage and character," said commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. "Words simply cannot express our sorrow over his loss. We send our deepest, most heartfelt condolences to Brendan's father, Brian; his mother, Kerry; everyone in Brendan's family and all who were inspired by his love for hockey."
Brian Burke's response at the time: "I simply could not be more proud of Brendan than I am, and I love him as much as I admire him."
Brendan Burke contacted USA Today and Hockey News blogger Justin Bourne after Bourne urged those in hockey to refrain from using homosexual slurs in the locker room. ESPN.com eventually told Burke's story.
"Brendan wasn't trying to make a huge statement," Bourne told FanHouse. "He was just a normal dude and a really good person."
FanHouse National Reporter A.J. Perez contributed to this report.