Burns: 'I'm still fighting'

Updated: January 21, 2009, 6:54 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former NHL coach Pat Burns, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003-04 and liver cancer in 2005, told a Montreal newspaper that lung cancer was diagnosed in May 2008.

Burns, 56, a former police detective who coached 14 seasons with four NHL teams, told La Presse that although he had chemotherapy for the first two bouts of cancer, he decided not to go that way this time. Instead, he said, he is trying other methods to fight the lung cancer.

[+] EnlargePat Burns
Richard Wolowicz/Getty ImagesPat Burns has opted to fight his lung cancer with methods other than chemotherapy.

"I know what you people are like in Montreal," Burns said, according to La Presse. "You're capable of dramatizing everything, if it suits you. The truth is simple: the cancer has returned.

"But never fear: I'm still alive. I'm not in great shape, but I wake up every morning, I play golf, I ride my motorcycle and I work, despite the illness."

Burns, who guided the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup victory in 2003, does some scouting for the Devils.

The three-time Jack Adams Trophy winner (with three teams) told the newspaper that he learned of the lung cancer in May, after the world hockey championships held in Quebec, Canada.

"If it weren't for this, I would have been back in the National Hockey League this year. I wanted to come back, I had interviews set up and permission from the Devils to consider the offers that people were making. But because of the cancer I've had to put all that aside," he told La Presse.

Burns, with a career record of 501-350-161, coached the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and the Devils.

"I haven't abandoned hope, I'm still fighting, as I always have. But in another way," Burns told La Presse.

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