Hockey lost one of its heroes Sunday with the news that longtime Arlington coach Ed Burns died. He was 93.
“It’s a sad day in Arlington for sure,” said current Spy Ponders coach John Messuri, who played for Burns and graduated from Arlington in 1985. “He has a special place in everyone’s heart and not just in Arlington. It was an annual event to go see Ed and his teams at the Garden. It was almost part of the fabric of New England."
Burns's list of honors could fill a book.
He was inducted into the Boston College Hall of Fame (1987), the United States Hockey Hall of Fame (1976), the Massachusetts Football Hall of Fame (1979), the Boston Garden 60th Anniversary Celebration (1988), American Hockey Coaches Association John Mariucci Award (1989), Hartford Whalers Outstanding Service Award (1990), first-ever Arlington High School Hall of Fame (1991), National High School Sports Hall of Fame (1992), and the MIAA Distinguished Service Award (1992).
Burns was born in Lexington on Nov. 20, 1920. His family moved to Arlington where he became a three-sport star at Arlington High School. He was the only sophomore on the 1937 Arlington varsity football team and was the team’s captain his senior year. He also played three years of varsity ice hockey. In the spring he split his time between baseball and swimming.
After graduation he attended Prep school before enrolling at Boston College. He played three sports at the Heights and in 1987 was inducted into the BC Hall of Fame. His college success was such that he was drafted by both the Pittsburgh Steelers in football and Philadelphia Phillies in baseball.
World War II interrupted his playing career but it couldn't stop his coaching career. His first job was as a football assistant at Taunton High in 1947, but within three weeks he took a similar position at Niagara University. When Burns received word that Charlie Downs was stepping down as hockey coach at Arlington, he immediately applied and got the job for the 1947-48 season. His first win came Dec. 16, 1947, a 7-0 victory over Rindge.
Burns became an assistant football coach at Arlington in 1949 and then head coach in 1954. When Burns finally retired in 1997, he had coached 1,108 games and won 805 of them. Of the win total, 695 came on the ice. In 50 seasons of coaching hockey, he had just one losing season and won five state titles.
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