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Third-Degree Burns
Austin Murphy
February 27, 1989
Coach Pat Burns, a former cop, has stressed law and order in turning once-troubled Montreal into the NHL's hottest team
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February 27, 1989

Third-degree Burns

Coach Pat Burns, a former cop, has stressed law and order in turning once-troubled Montreal into the NHL's hottest team

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Unsure of how to proceed, Burns went back to see Gretzky. The Great One looked at the contract he had offered Burns and then studied the one Savard had extended to him. Satisfied that all was well, Gretzky tore up the first contract. "You're crazy if you don't go with the Canadiens," Gretzky told him. "They're one of the classiest organizations in professional sports."

A month into this season, Burns looked crazy for having joined the Montreal organization. Thanks to the Canadiens' sluggish start, he was taking heat from all sides. To avoid passing premature judgment on Burns, La Presse waited until the season was six games old before asking, in a front page headline, WILL HE LAST UNTIL CHRISTMAS?

By Christmas, Montreal had all but sewn up the Adams Division crown, and Burns had been anointed a savior. But he hasn't forgotten the rude welcome he received from the press. "It cut me and left me to bleed on Ste. Catherine Street," he says. "Now I'm winning, so I'm a genius. If I lose, I'm dead."

With discord having given way to discipline on the Canadiens, it looks as if Burns will be alive for a while longer.

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