Burke is a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, and he is in law school, and yet the reason for this speech consumes him as much as anything. He is going grey at the temples already and, as he cracks, “I’m 28 and single for a reason. I’ve got things to do.”
Yes, he does. Day classes Monday through Thursday, night classes Monday and Wednesday, scouting hockey games in the New England area the other five nights of the week. And, of course, his brother Brendan’s legacy. That is why he volunteered to give the keynote speech at the Church Street Community Centre, where OutSport Toronto is holding its 11th annual conference on gay issues in sports.
Beforehand, Burke sits with a few members of the OutSport executive in a sunlit room and talks about what he has learned. He and his father Brian, the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, have taken on the challenge of fighting homophobia in hockey since Patrick’s openly gay brother Brendan died in a car accident on Feb. 5, 2010. And Burkes tend to go all in.