On Shawn Burr’s Passing


I’ve had a blank editor window open since news broke last night that former Red Wing Shawn Burr had died after suffering massive head injuries from a fall in his home, waiting for words to come to me that would sum up what it meant in some nice little way.

That’s not going to happen, of course. Can’t blame me for trying, though.

Burr was one of the first Red Wings I remember. Growing up with the team in the mid- to late-1980s and into the early 1990s, it was all about Steve Yzerman, Gerard Gallant, Bob Probert, Joe Kocur and Shawn Burr. Without Gallant or Probert or Burr (but with Kocur back after stints with the Rangers and Canucks) the Red Wings finally found their way to the top of the league but those were the guys we watched pull the team out of the “Dead Wings” era.

The people who actually knew him talk about his laugh, his presence in the dressing room. To me he was just toughness personified in a way different from Probert and Kocur. A guy who looked smaller than his height but played bigger than it.

That it was a head injury that finally did him in after a three-year fight with cancer seems a cruel twist. Last night I said the following via Twitter:

Burr was never less than certain he was going to beat his cancer, at least publicly. Though some will speculate it was what weakened him enough to make his fall happen, in a way he did beat it in the end. Call it hyperbole if you want but it reminds me of the quote about President Theodore Roosevelt:

Death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake there would have been a fight.

Cancer alone wasn’t enough to stop Burr, that final fall was needed as well.

Burr joins the aforementioned Probert – as well as Steve Chiasson, Brad McCrimmon and Marc Potvin – as early-1990s Red Wings gone too soon.


Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996 with no idea what it would lead to. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development.

Comments are closed.