GQ Posts Great Piece on the NHL and the Courageous Burke Family

Whatever you read today, make sure it includes this great piece about Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, his son Brendan who died earlier this year in a car accident, and Brendan's brother Patrick, all of whom behaved heroically as Brendan came out and later lost his life, far too early.

Writes Mary Rogan in GQ: Brianburke

In the past thirty years, Burke has blistered through the ranks of NHL management, including a stint as discipline czar for commissioner Gary Bettman. "When he was working for me," Bettman recalls, "there was a picture of him in his office from when he played for the Maine Mariners, with blood all over his face and uniform. I knew this was a good, smart, tough guy with no b.s. about him."

But now the combative G.M. had taken the biggest hit of his life. Lying on the side of the road was his 21-year-old son, who had stunned the hockey world three months earlier when he'd come out as the first openly gay man closely connected to the NHL. Listening to the sheriff's voice down the line, Burke could see Brendan in the snow that was still falling, surrounded by strangers who didn't know a thing about him. He must be so cold, Burke thought, and he could see the furrow in his brow that Brendan always got when he was worried. He could see the paramedics give up and step away, and already ticking in the background were those ten seconds of knee-buckling fear.


As he tells this terrible story, Burke is sitting in the expansive backyard of his Toronto home, which overlooks one of the city's most beautiful ravines, maneuvering his cell phone on the patio table to show which way Brendan's car was facing when it crossed the center line. His voice is a low moan as he chokes out the words and lurches his way through the details. At his feet, on the weathered deck, are wet blotches from the tears he can't slap away fast enough. "Brendan died alone in the snow," he sobs. "And it haunts me that the last ten seconds of his life were filled with terror."

As heartbreaking as that last paragraph is, it's really an empowering, beautiful piece that shows a father's dedication to his gay son, and the changes they made together.

Out on the Ice [GQ]


  1. Paul R says

    It’s hard not to tear up reading that article. It was very well done, and very sad.

    I don’t think I could ever be a parent because if I lost a child I doubt I could continue.

  2. QueerLiberation says

    How is it possible that we live in a world in which this is the norm, as well as a majority of the population supporting a repeal of DADT, and yet we still make excuses for the homophobic Democratic Party? If they were a boyfriend, we’d dump them already.

  3. Rowan says


    What are you on about? What does this have to do with the Dems in a really right wing country?

    Who is making excuses? Use your head man. Seriously read about politics and what lobbying means.

    You’re the kind who would rather f*ck over the Dems, like the GOP did with the 9/11 bill then actually think about others.


  4. SteveC says

    I wish he was my dad:

    “I had a million good reasons to love and admire Brendan. This news didn’t alter any of them. I would prefer Brendan hadn’t decided to discuss this issue in this very public manner. There will be a great deal of reaction, and I fear a large portion will be negative. But this takes guts, and I admire Brendan greatly, and happily march arm in arm with him on this. There are gay men in professional hockey. We would be fools to think otherwise. And it’s sad that they feel the need to conceal this. I understand why they do so, however. Can a gay man advance in professional hockey? He can if he works for the Toronto Maple Leafs! Or for Miami University Hockey. God bless Rico Blasi! And I am certain these two organizations are not alone here. I wish this burden would fall on someone else’s shoulders, not Brendan’s. Pioneers are often misunderstood and mistrusted. But since he wishes to blaze this trail, I stand beside him with an axe! I simply could not be more proud of Brendan than I am, and I love him as much as I admire him.” — Brian Burke


  5. HJB says

    Cher bless Canada. Canada is a far more civilised nation than the US.

    POSTED BY: STEVEC | DEC 22, 2010 7:08:51 PM

    You *do* realize that Brian Burke (and Brendan) is an American, right?


Leave A Reply