Reporting from Vancouver, Canada — Sitting before a crowd of reporters at a news conference Sunday, Brian Burke was his usual blustery self as he detailed why the U.S. men's hockey team, which opens play Tuesday against Switzerland, is an underdog here.
But while speaking to a small group Burke, the general manager of Team USA, dropped his guard and acknowledged he had been shattered by the death of his youngest son, Brendan, in a car accident Feb. 5.
Asked how he's handling his grief, a haggard-looking Burke tried to compose himself but couldn't keep his voice from cracking.
"You cry less every day," he said. "It's been tough.
"I think about him. He would have wanted me to do this."
Brendan Burke, 21, and a friend, Mark Reedy, died in a two-vehicle accident on a snowy road in Indiana. They had visited Michigan State's law school and were en route to Miami University of Ohio, where Burke was the student manager of the hockey team. He had contemplated law school, politics or becoming an NHL general manager, and although he loved the game his father said Brendan lacked one necessary quality.
"You need a callous on your heart to do this job. Patrick, my oldest son, has that. I'm not sure Brendan did, to his credit," Burke said. "I'm not sure what he would have done, but he would have been successful."