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Weeks after gay son’s death at 21 in car accident, hockey’s Brian Burke marches at Olympics in his memory

From Miami Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman’s article on Sunday, U.S., Canada battle for gold in men's hockey final:

Few expected the young and inexperienced Team USA to be here. Brian Burke, the team's Harvard-educated general manager, was one of the few.

``We always felt our team was better than the media did,'' Burke said on Saturday, before the team's final practice. ``Not throwing a rock. People get paid to sit down with those rosters, look at the names, and say who's got the best team. No one thought we'd be in this game, no one.''

Forward Ryan Kesler, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, agreed. ``There's no pressure on us because nobody thinks we're going to win, nobody but us.''

Burke is a big reason this collection of gritty NHL role players made it to the championship. The Toronto Maple Leafs general manager, a lawyer by trade, went for youth, speed and character. Once he found the players he wanted, he infused them with an extra dose of fighting spirit and patriotism.

burkeBurke set aside personal tragedy to be part of the Olympics. His youngest son, Brendan, 21, was killed in an auto accident on Feb. 5, and Burke was marching in the Opening Ceremonies a week later in his son's memory. Brendan was openly gay, and when he told Burke a year ago, the USA manager not only was accepting, but offered to make public service announcements discouraging gay bashing.


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