Burns

Burns

LAS VEGAS — Sort of a sparse gathering of celebrities at the presenters’ reception tonight here at The Palms.

Jeremy Roenick, Stan Mikita, Mark Messier and Ed Olczyk all made an appearance. One presenter of note on hand for Boston Bruins fans was former Bruins head coach Pat Burns. Burns has been battling cancer for five years and said he’s been battling his latest lapse all year. He looked well.

Burns is here to present the Jack Adams Trophy winner. A three-time award winner, Burns said he made a promised to commissioner Gary Bettman last year that he’d come out to Las Vegas to do the presentation. So there’s a chance a former Boston and Montreal head coach could present another, if Bruins head coach Claude Julien wins the award.

“He did a great job, I thought. They definitely showed a big improvement. Unfortunately, they ran into the same team we ran into in Carolina,” said Burns, who still scouts for New Jersey, the last team he coached.

“You could see, they were a very tough team to play against – everybody I talked to around the league (said it). And, of course, I still see a lot of games. You watch them every time they came into Florida. They were really, really well-organized.”

In addition to both coaching the Habs and Bruins, Burns and Julien also both had stops in Hull of the QMJHL and with the Habs’ AHL affiliate. So Burns keeps a close eye on Julien. But he knows the competition for the Adams tomorrow night is intense.

“In San Jose, Todd (McLellan) did a great job. That team is a powerful team but they can’t seem to get over the hump. Sometimes it’s tougher going into the situation. And Todd there did a great job,” Burns said. “In St. Louis, Andy Murray bringing that team up the river in the end was amazing because nobody expected that. Everybody had them out. It’s three very good candidates.”

We’ll find out tomorrow who the NHL coach of the year is.