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Brendan Burke, son of Brian Burke, dies in a car crash

February 5, 2010 | 11:12 pm

It’s impossible to know where to begin with this.

To say Brendan Burke was far, far too young at 21 when he died as the result of injuries he suffered in a car crash in Wayne County, Ind., on Friday?

That he had a passion for hockey he inherited from his father, Brian, the former general manager of the Ducks and current GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he made that passion his own as the student manager of the hockey team at Miami of Ohio?

That he had the manners and smarts to have made a heck of a hockey executive, which he had dreamed of becoming?

It’s impossible to sum up the life of this charming young man who inspired discussions about homosexuality in sports a few short months ago when he talked to ESPN’s John Buccigross about being a gay man in a macho sport.

People in hockey who know Brian Burke and knew Brendan had similar reactions to his death. Sick to my stomach. Just sick. Very upsetting. So sad.

Brian Burke is the general manager of the U.S. men’s hockey team for the Vancouver Olympics, and he had planned to march in the opening ceremony next Friday. It’s too early to think about whether Brendan’s death will impact Brian’s participation in the upcoming Games, but you have to think that because it’s hockey-related and so much of Brendan’s life revolved around the sport, Brendan would have wanted him to be there.

The Burke family—his father, mother, stepmother and five siblings—lost a son, a brother, a friend. The hockey world lost a shining spirit.

-- Helene Elliott