The Burns’ Brothers Weigh in on Canada Junior Medal Shortfall
- story courtesy of the Daily Observer – Valley Pulpit 11 Jan 2013
Rev. Terry Burns and his brother Darren (head coach of the Acadia Axemen) weigh in on Canada being shut out of the medals at the world juniors over the Christmas break. On Thursday morning last week, I bounded from my bed, ran to the TV room like a child waking up on Christmas day and expected to hear of a decisive Team Canada win over the U.S. as I tuned in to TSN. I couldn’t believe my eyes, there it was: U.S. 5, Canada 1. And then another heartbreak, a loss to Russia! I have been following just about every major media network in Canada since then and have just about hurled as I have read the online comments from sports fans chirping in on the “whys” for the loss.
Submitted photo Darren Burns (centre), brother of Observer columnist Rev.
Terry Burns, is the head coach of the Acadia University Axemen and is a strong advocate of Hockey Canada and its development program.
I am Canadian and I take pride in every victory by any of Hockey Canada’s international squads with perhaps the exception of the Spengler Cup, as I have never been able to get over the tournament requirement to make our guys look like dorks with the heavy duty European look, uniform advertising and all.
As I sat down to write about this year’s Junior tournament, I thought it might be interesting this week to get the perspective of a hockey expert, my brother Darren. Many in Pembroke hockey circles know Darren. He is a Mac McLean disciple and was a fouryear Brockville Brave back in the George Dupont era.
Darren went on to play at Acadia University and then took on the head coaching role there. He is the longest standing coach in the Atlantic Division of the CIS with a 12-year run and can add experience as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the University Olympics in Turin, Italy in 2005 to his hockey resume. Canada won this tournament handily, defeating Russia!
I sent Darren an e-mail last Friday and he texted me back from the road as he was travelling with the Axemen from Wolfville to Fredericton to take on the UNB Varsity Reds. Here were some of his thoughts: “Obviously when I see Canada lose anything in hockey, I get an instant headache! I hate losing and I hate seeing Canada lose because at the end of the day, I think we are the best.
For me, there are two key issues here and I don’t like people speaking ill of this year’s squad. Every kid and coach on Team Canada wanted to win gold and they gave everything they had, sometimes you just don’t win! When I think of hockey in Canada and the evolution of the game, I focus on the positive and I believe in creating equal opportunity for all if possible. I wouldn’t have done anything different than the Canada coaching staff did!”
Darren went on to reflect on the success of our competitors taking place over time. He went on to say:
“I remember as a kid being privileged to work at the Eastern Ontario Junior “A” camp in Arnprior. We hosted kids not just from Canada, but also from all over the world, yes all over the world and including the States! I started working there at the age of 16 and did so until I finished at 25. It was a tremendous hockey camp! I often had to chuckle that as a Junior A player, these kids took my word as gospel (Borrowed one of your phrases, Terry).
“I loved the game and had a real good understanding of it but I knew down deep that some of these international kids were already better than I was and some went on to great pro careers in the NHL. Bottom line, we were, even back then, teaching the world the game of hockey.
“But today in 2013 however, does anyone outside of Canada really ‘need’ to come here to learn the game of hockey? The answer may be tough for some of us to swallow, but it is simply, no! It is not that we have lost our way and we still have absolutely the best junior leagues, the best camps and the best coaches right here in Canada. But on the other hand, many Canadians now go to the United States and elsewhere overseas for youth hockey camps and tournaments and this is not a bad thing. No, this is called hockey development and hockey education.
“Also keep in mind that we are welcoming European hockey players even at the minor hockey age to come and board with Canadian families so our teams can be more competitive. We have wanted to make our junior leagues the best in the world by having an import draft and now there are a couple of top European players on each of our Major Junior teams. Many Canadians are now taking advantage of opportunities to go to Europe to play. It wasn’t that many years ago when it was a one-way street!
“Tell the people in the Valley that everything is alive and well in Canadian hockey. The losses still sting but I think we just have to take a step back and say ‘Hey, what a great job we have done here and this is as good as competition gets.’ Canada has done this; this is what hockey is all about!
“To quote my friend Matt Jenner when speaking of his son Boone, ‘In hockey you get what you work for!’
“That’s why his kids are successful players and more importantly, great human beings. I have Boone’s brother Leo playing for me at Acadia and both Jenner and and Boone are terrific role models for my son Brady. When kept in perspective, the best thing about the game of hockey is that when kids are taught and coached properly, it helps them learn about life.
“In hockey, some days are your days to win, some days are not. Yesterday, I saw a headline, ‘OH NO Canada,’ which was a cheap shot. Hold your head up Canada, what a great job we have done elevating the competition in the greatest game in the world. We will win gold medals at the juniors again, it won’t be this year but it will happen again soon!”
(Darren Burns, head coach, Acadia Axeman, Wolfville, N.S.)
He did a pretty good job on a bus texting on his cell phone. For you young hockey prospects out there, university hockey is the only time you ever get to pick your own coach. Don’t forget Acadia and coach Burns when you are shopping for schools!