Massachusetts high school hockey lost a pioneer Sunday with the passing of 50-year Arlington High coach Ed Burns at the age of 93.
Burns served with the U.S. Marines on Guam during World War Two, completed his studies at Boston College, then took over as Arlington’s coach in 1947. His career record of 695-167-62 included eight State and Sectional titles and 28 Greater Boston League crowns. He also coached football for 21 years, compiling a 110-64-10 record.
“Ed Burns was an icon. His winning, especially at a public school, will never be approached. He was a great man who helped so many players and other coaches. He was also a great dad and husband. He turned down many college jobs because he didn’t want to be away from his family. High school sports has lost its Godfather,” said former Spy Ponders’ star and current Arlington coach John Messuri, who played for Burns and is a 1985 Arlington High graduate.
Burns starred in three sports at Arlington and went on to a Hall of Fame career at Boston College where he also excelled in three sports. He is a member of the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, the Massachusetts Football Hall of Fame, the B.C. Hall of Fame, the Arlington High Hall of Fame and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.
The Town of Arlington re-named the rink at Veterans Memorial Sports Complex as Ed Burns Arena in December 2010. Burns received the American Hockey Coaches Association’s John Mariucci Award in 1989 and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1992.
Arlington High alum Dan Shine, Arlington Catholic’s 35-year head coach, shared the facility at Veterans Memorial with Burns’ teams for many years.
“Coach Burns was a true Educator-Coach, a pioneer that developed one of the prolific programs in the state. He was always willing to talk about ideas and very complimentary to others,” Shine said. “We became good friends and colleagues throughout our years with mutual respect competing in the same facility.”
Catholic Memorial’s Hall of Fame coach Bill Hanson was a freshman playing for Boston Tech in 1963 when he first met Burns. Hanson’s coach, Victor Campbell, was one of the first inductees into the Mass. Coaches Hall of Fame and a friend of Burns.
“We scrimmaged Arlington often during my four years in high school. The most memorable game I watched him coach was the game in which South Boston High came back from a five-goal deficit to defeat Arlington in the State Tournament. South Boston was coached by a former player [of Coach Burns], Tom Apprille, and I’ll never forget their exchange on the ice at the Old Garden. It was my first year as Coach at CM,” Hanson recalled.
“I always wanted to coach against Coach Burns and finally got the opportunity to do so in the Super 8 tournament in 1993. It was an honor to be associated with him in the same game. I’ll never forget that moment,” Hanson said.
Burns was also on the bench in 1983 as a team of Massachusetts HS all-stars played a three-game Super Series hosted by HNIB against a team of Minnesota all-stars. The Mass. stars won all three games in convincing fashion.
Mr. Burns’ funeral will be from the DeVito Funeral Home, 1145 Mass. Ave., Arlington, Thursday morning at 9, followed by a funeral mass at 10:30 in St. Eulalia Church, Winchester.