Brendan Burke, Son of Maple Leafs Coach, Dies in Car Crash

Brendan Burke, the youngest son of Toronto Maple Leafs manager Brian Burke, who recently made international news with his coming out story, died yesterday in an apparently weather-related car accident in Indiana, the Pal-Item reports:

Brendanbrian "Heavy accumulations of snowfall on Friday rendered area roads
treacherous and claimed the lives of two people, injuring others and
sparking a string of slideoffs and fender benders. Brendan Burke, 21, Canton, Mass., and Mark A. Reedy, 18, Bloomfield
Hills, Mich., died at the scene of a two-vehicle accident at U.S. 35
north of Economy. The accident was reported at 2:50 p.m.Investigators said Burke was driving eastbound on
U.S. 35 in a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee when, according to witnesses, the
vehicle slid sideways into an oncoming 1997 Ford Truck driven by
24-year-old Michael Moreland of Lynn. Moreland was not hurt."

The Toronto Maple Leafs released a statement last night:

Statement From The Toronto Maple Leafs:

The Toronto Maple Leafs are saddened to report that Brendan Burke, the
youngest son of Leafs President and General Manager Brian Burke,
succumbed to injuries he suffered in an auto accident earlier today in

Statement From Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment:

Richard Peddie, president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf
Sports & Entertainment, issued the following statement regarding the
passing of Brendan Burke, son of Maple Leafs’ General Manager Brian

“On behalf of the entire Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment family, we
extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Brian
Burke. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burke family during this
extremely difficult time.”

The Burke family asks for privacy at this difficult time.

Thank you.

Statement From Commissioner Gary Bettman:

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman tonight released this
statement following the announcement that Brendan Burke, son of Toronto
Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, had passed away:

“The National Hockey League grieves tonight for the family and friends
of Brendan Burke, a young man of courage and character. 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

What a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts go out to the Burke family.

Their story…
Brian and Brendan Burke Busting Homophobia in Pro Hockey [tr]
Watch: Brian and Brendan Burke on Gays in Hockey, Coming Out [tr]


  1. E. says

    I remember reading the story of his coming out and his relationship with his father on here not so long ago. What a sad, shocking loss of an inspiring young man.

  2. patrick nyc says

    My Dad use to carry a clipping in his wallet, it said that anyone who left this earth better than he found it has done God’s work. Who knows how many lives this brave young man touched in his 21 years, I know he touched mine.

    My prayers to his friends and family.

  3. B says

    I read this about an hour ago on The Globe and Mail site and I am still in shock. Such a sad, sad end to such a promising life. The Burke family and the Reedy family are both in my thoughts and prayers. May Brendan’s memory and wish for a less-homophobic world be an inspiration to people.

  4. niles says

    It seems there has been a spate of senseless deaths of young people lately. It’s just a terrible thing – please take care, life is precious, and we need the new generation.

  5. michael says

    I just got very, very sad reading this. Cannot imagine what this family is going through right now.

  6. chris says

    This is both terribly sad and a wonderful trestament to the affirmative love between a father and a son.

  7. Michael J. Harrity says

    Boy, this just but a real cloud over my day. What a tragic loss. We so need kids like Brandon right now. Sad, sad, sad.

  8. Douglas says

    I am so terribly saddened by this, and can’t really imagine the pain of those affected. May his courage and dignity continue to inspire, and may his family somehow find comfort in the tremendous impact he had in his too brief life.

  9. Felix says

    What a great life story and inspiration he left at his young age…You’ll be remembered Brendan!

  10. Pinky says

    Thank goodness his father accepted him as he was, and loved him. Because who knew the boy would be gone so soon…it';s a good reminder that we only have one life and those whom we should love, we should love fully. Sad, sad news.

  11. Alex says

    Winter needs to go away already. I drive on roads like this all the time and they get really treacherous. I hate having to drive in the winter. This just sucks.

  12. Rafael says

    I’m deeply sadden by this tragic loss. Brendan was ahead of his time. His bravery will live on. R.I.P.

  13. says

    I’ve removed the disrespectful comment that was left here earlier and references to it, for obvious reasons. If you have to ask why, you probably should think about leaving your comments elsewhere and not on this site.

  14. tim b says

    Too young to die, but not too young to have lived honestly. What an awful loss for his family.

  15. peterparker says

    What a tragic story. I remember reading the original post about this kid and thinking how cool it was that he was so comfortable being out and that his family accepted him. His example will help other gay youth by inspiring them to come out to their parents and live their lives openly and with dignity. Rest In Peace, Brendan.

  16. FrancoisTrueFaux says

    I can echo the sentiments above. It truly hit me hard when I read that headline. I’ve never been shaken so hard by the death of someone I’ve never met. I hope his story and message lives on in all of us.

  17. Lis says

    The weather in this area has been *awful* over the past couple of days and there have been quite a few fatal accidents. Absolutely tragic. Amazing people have been lost far, far too soon.

  18. Rick C. says

    This is truly sad, as a Canadian, a hockey fan, a father and a gay man, this touched me deeply. My heart goes out to his family and the family of his friend as well. A promising life cut way to short.

  19. TampaZeke says

    Much metta Brendan and Mark.

    You changed so many lives for the better, in ways that you could never have imagined.

    The good karma that you will take with you into your next existence is immeasurable. I will send you merits in my daily meditations.

  20. Scott says

    My prayers are with his family. He touched me in a profound way and may his legacy continue to touch the heart of others.

  21. B says

    As a follow-up to my above comment, I am wondering if this will effect Brendan’s father’s role in the U.S. Olympic team’s competition (he is the team’s general manager) which starts in just 10 days.

    Also, Mark Reedy (who I am afraid is going to get lost in this tragedy) was a well-accomplished diver when he was in high school in Michigan. He was runner-up twice in the state high school diving championships. Here is a story about him and his life.

  22. Joshua says

    Feels like I just read the piece that Andy did on Brendan and his father on this site. At the time I thought thank you for a having a positive role model for youth in sports. Also his relationship with his father was moving as someone who didn’t have a great relationship with my father after coming out, it really moved me. What his father and family are going through I can not imagine. Prayers and thoughts of peace for both families. The gay youth community just suffered a huge loss.

  23. Jon says

    To Brendan Burke:
    I don’t know why, I don’t get it. I don’t think words can justify your leaving us.

    You, your family, and your team touched my life: You are a symbol of hope, of reconciliation, of re-building of barriers and bonds which some of us had given up on.

    I can’t say that you lived, because you were only 21. Somehow though, you managed to do good in your short life. For what it’s worth, thank you.

    May you rest in peace.

  24. Chris says

    Doug, I’m not sure why I’m responding to you (since you’re clearly out for ‘revenge’ after your disgusting previous comment was removed) but the article specifically states that the man in the other vehicle was not hurt, let alone killed. Additionally, it’s unfair to claim Brendan Burke ’caused’ the accident since it was clearly down to the snow in that part of the country. I don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve with your comment at all.

  25. dave says

    this saddens me so much, i remember reading not long ago on here about his coming ojut…what an awesome kid, what an awesome family and in his short time here on earth how many many people did he positivly affect and touch…i know he touched my heart when i read his story … sympathies to both families in the sad sad time

  26. says

    Brendan’s father was a mensch !(Yiddish for a person of integrity and honor) I remember when
    Tommy Lasorda, shun his gay son, especially after he was stricken with AIDS. Good Sportsmanship makes the best coaches and fathers. Brendan was able to tell the world
    who he was… and his Dad loved him, and it showed. His life was too short… however, he lived it OUT of the closet. How lucky Brendan was for that. We lost a future without him, and be thankful for the time he was here, and for telling us to be ourselves.

  27. B says

    Doug, I do not want my comment blocked (and it is not appropriate in this situation to say what I want to say to you) so I will refrain from lashing out at you. But I will say this: get your facts straight. This was an ACCIDENT. As for the death of the other person, that person was Mark Reedy, he was Brendan’s friend and he was 18…not 24.

  28. Tom L. says

    How sad!

    We can expect the christers now to tell us that this is god’s punishment for being gay, and the secular republicans to tell us that another danger of homosexuality (besides AIDS) is poor driving. Just preparing you for the inevitable….

  29. darrell says

    At last nights hockey game that the Maple Leafs played there was a minite of silence where not a cough was heard as 20,000 fans stood immobile in Brendans honour. It made me proud as a Canadian that complete strangers could honour the tragically short life of a complete stranger. I hope the Burke family can take strength in the fact that Canada grieves alongside them.As well I hope that when the Olympics start in Vancouver this week,that something similar will happen to honour Brendan and his family since his father Brian Burke is the head coach of Team USA. It is only fitting.

  30. real talk says

    As a young gay Canadian (in the particular, though this should be relevant to anyone with a heart), Brendan’s death can only be taken as nothing less than indelibly unjust, and a call to non-complacency as long as a breath still passes the lips.

  31. B says

    Tom L., thanks for being tacky and dragging religion into what has been (for the most part) an otherwise classy collection of comments. As for you preparing us for anything, no thanks, we don’t need it.

  32. CJ says

    This is so unfair. Brendan Burke was a great guy.

    When tragedies like this happen I can never wrap my head around them.

    I always wish that things like this never happen.

  33. jamal49 says

    God! How sad and tragic! My condolences Brendan’s family and friends. His coming-out story was inspiring and so wonderful. Just so, so sad that his young life should end that way. God rest his soul.

  34. adelaide says

    Dear MR Towleroad
    My son tells me to read your newssite and I think you are a so nice person for being good to and I feel very sad so to hear that a nice young person has died to. Every body should try to be nice.

  35. Mack ORD says

    This just really sucks. How unfortunate for the family, for hockey, and for the rest of us. What a great kid.