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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 Indiana.

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 Burke:

“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 hockey.” 

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]

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  1. This hit me hard too. I wish I could put it in words why, but I can't. So sad.

    Posted by: javo | Feb 6, 2010 6:32:11 PM

  2. Awful. Awful. Awful.

    Posted by: HW In SoCal | Feb 6, 2010 6:47:23 PM

  3. 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.

    Posted by: Lis | Feb 6, 2010 7:09:08 PM

  4. 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.

    Posted by: Rick C. | Feb 6, 2010 7:24:49 PM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Feb 6, 2010 7:49:10 PM

  6. The boy was so cute, so brave, so honest. He did not deserve to die.

    Such a shame.

    Posted by: Paulo | Feb 6, 2010 7:56:55 PM

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

    Posted by: Scott | Feb 6, 2010 10:13:43 PM

  8. 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.

    Posted by: B | Feb 6, 2010 10:48:36 PM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: Joshua | Feb 6, 2010 11:33:59 PM

  10. In case the full url at the end in my above post is not displaying on your screen, the ending is .txt

    Posted by: B | Feb 6, 2010 11:41:21 PM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: Jon | Feb 7, 2010 4:30:01 AM

  12. 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.

    Posted by: Chris | Feb 7, 2010 9:15:03 AM

  13. 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

    Posted by: dave | Feb 7, 2010 9:28:58 AM

  14. 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.

    Posted by: jerry pritikin | Feb 7, 2010 9:51:17 AM

  15. 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.

    Posted by: B | Feb 7, 2010 12:49:54 PM

  16. 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....

    Posted by: Tom L. | Feb 7, 2010 12:58:52 PM

  17. 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.

    Posted by: darrell | Feb 7, 2010 2:12:58 PM

  18. Thanks Andy.

    Here here Darrel, this young mans life will live on.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Feb 7, 2010 2:30:47 PM

  19. 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.

    Posted by: real talk | Feb 7, 2010 4:18:29 PM

  20. 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.

    Posted by: B | Feb 7, 2010 5:40:48 PM

  21. Here is Brendan's obituary with information about how to make a donation to his high school:

    Posted by: B | Feb 7, 2010 8:57:55 PM

  22. This is just terrible news. All my thoughts and condolences to his family.

    Posted by: James C. | Feb 7, 2010 11:24:32 PM

  23. 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.

    Posted by: CJ | Feb 8, 2010 9:47:04 AM

  24. 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.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Feb 8, 2010 2:50:14 PM

  25. 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.

    Posted by: adelaide | Feb 8, 2010 5:17:05 PM

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