Burns' name was not called by the Hall when the selection committee announced its newest class on Tuesday. This came as a profound shock in some circles because there was a significant movement to get the 58-year-old Burns enshrined in Toronto this November. In 2009, he said that he had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in his life. This time it was lung cancer, incurable, and Burns was choosing to not pursue any more treatment.
His omission from the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 has enraged his supporters. Elected in the Builders category were longtime Islanders and Red Wings executive Jim Devellano and Calgary Flames co-founder Darryl "Doc" Seaman.
In a phone interview with NHL FanHouse, longtime Hall of Fame selection committee member Bill Torrey acknowledged the outcry of criticism from hockey executives, players and media members who felt Burns was snubbed in a most insensitive fashion.
"For anyone to think that our thoughts were not with Pat Burns is unfair," said Torrey, the former general manager of the New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s and currently a governor with the Florida Panthers. "Committee members are not allowed to speak about the process and give specific details on the voting, but I want to make clear that Pat was certainly on our minds."
"Pat's record is wonderful," said Torrey. "Everyone knows what he means to the game of hockey. There are always factors. Jimmy Devellano has been a part of seven Stanley Cup teams. In every corner of the Hall, you'll find players and coaches that he worked with -- and there will be more to come. Even if most people in the U.S. are unfamiliar with him, Doc Seaman has made significant contributions to the NHL. Doc passed away last year, leaving a major imprint on the game.
"Like I said, I'm not really supposed to be saying much, but I wanted to respond to your questions about Pat. I have to leave it with this: both Jimmy and Doc richly deserve the honors they got today and I hope everyone understands that."