Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Charlie Burns
While playing junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros, Charlie Burns suffered a fractured skull that almost ended his career. But he underwent surgery to have a metal plate inserted in his head and made a courageous comeback, wearing a heavily padded helmet in all games and practices during his professional hockey career until he was 38.

Burns played at the 1958 World Championships with the Whitby Dunlops and finished the tournament with three goals and seven points in seven games and was selected the outstanding forward. The Dunlops won all seven of their games, outscoring the opposition by a total of 82-6.

The next season, Burns was signed by the Detroit Red Wings and he played in the Motor City for one season before being claimed by the Boston Bruins in the 1959 Intra-League Draft. He became an outstanding utility man with the Bruins. Bruins coach Phil Watson used him to shadow the league's greatest stars Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Frank Mahovlich. Watson said Burns was a good man for the job because he was an excellent skater and didn't let anything get under his skin.

Toronto coach Punch Imlach said that from that point on the Leafs were going to treat Burns the same as any other player. The intimation was that Toronto players had been taking it easy on him because of the head injury he'd suffered. In the same season, Burns was caught with his head down by Chicago defenseman Pierre Pilote and wound up in the hospital with a mild concussion suffered when his head struck the ice. But Milt Schmidt, the Boston coach at that time, conceded after the game that it was a clean hit.

When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season, Burns was playing with the San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League and his NHL rights were transferred to the Oakland Seals after the San Francisco owners were granted an NHL franchise. He later played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Minnesota North Stars. Always known more for his excellent defensive skills, he collected 13 goals and 51 points in his best NHL season, for Pittsburgh, in 1968-69.

If he had played longer in the post-expansion era, Burns certainly would have been a candidate for nomination as the NHL's best defensive forward. But the Frank J. Selke Trophy wasn't awarded for the first time until 1978, five years after he'd played his last NHL game.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1951-52 St. Michael's Buzzers ON-Jr.B
1952-53 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 33 5 7 12 17 7 4 1 5 2
1953-54 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 59 17 14 31 45 7 2 3 5 0
1954-55 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
1955-56 Toronto Marlboros OHA-Jr. 20 5 8 13 16 11 5 4 9 12
1955-56 Toronto Marlboros M-Cup 13 2 2 4 8
1956-57 Whitby Dunlops EOHL 40 16 25 41 29 5 4 6 10 2
1956-57 Whitby Dunlops Al-Cup 16 4 9 13 25
1957-58 Whitby Dunlops EOHL 31 24 28 52 32
1957-58 Canada WEC-A 7 3 4 7 0
1958-59 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 9 11 20 32
1959-60 Boston Bruins NHL 62 10 17 27 46
1960-61 Boston Bruins NHL 62 15 26 41 16
1960-61 Kingston Frontenacs EPHL 8 3 6 9 4
1961-62 Boston Bruins NHL 70 11 17 28 43
1962-63 Boston Bruins NHL 68 12 10 22 13
1963-64 San Francisco Seals WHL 68 33 36 69 27 11 1 3 4 2
1964-65 San Francisco Seals WHL 51 27 36 63 19
1965-66 San Francisco Seals WHL 40 10 35 45 26 7 1 5 6 0
1966-67 California Seals WHL 71 22 38 60 29 6 0 0 0 9
1967-68 Oakland Seals NHL 73 9 26 35 20 -14
1968-69 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 13 38 51 22 -9
1969-70 Minnesota North Stars NHL 50 3 13 16 10 -4 6 1 0 1 2
1970-71 Minnesota North Stars NHL 76 9 19 28 13 0 12 3 3 6 2
1971-72 Minnesota North Stars NHL 77 11 14 25 24 +5 7 1 1 2 2
1972-73 Minnesota North Stars NHL 65 4 7 11 13 -3 6 0 0 0 0
1973-74 New Haven Nighthawks AHL 64 10 19 29 73 10 1 3 4 16
NHL Totals 749 106 198 304 252 31 5 4 9 6


Named Best Forward at WEC-A (1958) Missed majority of 1954-55 due to concussion, November, 1954. Claimed by Boston from Detroit in Intra-League Draft, June 10, 1959. NHL rights transferred to Oakland after owners of San Francisco (WHL) franchise granted NHL expansion team, April 26, 1966. Claimed by Pittsburgh from Oakland in Intra-League Draft, June 12, 1968. Claimed by Minnesota from Pittsburgh in Intra-League Draft, June 11, 1969.
Named playing-coach of Minnesota, December 28, 1969.