NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The beloved NHL player and New Haven Knighthawks coach Charles F. Burns died at 85-years-old this past Friday.

The former athlete passed away at Yale New Haven Hospital. He was surrounded by his friends and family, including his wife of nearly 46 years, Margaret (Stevens) Burns.

Burns, originally hailing from Detroit, Michigan, moved to Toronto, Canada early in his life. According to his family, he shortly discovered his passion for hockey and decided to become a permanent resident of Canada to pursue a career in the sport. Burns went on to become a member of the 1958 world champion Whitby Dunlops and even was named the Most Valuable Player in the tournament.

His popularity only grew from there. He swooped into the professional league in 1958-59 to play for the Detroit Red Wings, where he is best-known for his excellent skating skills, his defensive tactics, and being one of the first players to wear a helmet. His time in the league was not limited, however; he also played for the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, and California Seals.

The American Hockey League also welcomed Burns and he joined the New Haven Knighthawks. Over time, he transitioned from a player to a coach at not only the Nighthawks, but also the Minnesota North Stars.

Connecticut hockey fans may remember Burns as the longest-serving president in the history of the Wallingford Hawks Youth Hockey Association. During the 1990’s, he served as a director of coaches, teaching the sport to not only his sons Scott and Daniel, but thousands of hockey lovers.

While Burns was best-known for his time on the ice, he was also the beloved member of a large family. This includes his two sons and their spouses Scott and Crissy Burns and Daniel and Kim Burns, as well as his granddaughters Kennedy and McKingley Burns. In addition to his children and grandchildren, Burns is survived by his mother-in-law Virginia Stevens and his cousins: Robin Scharf, Matthew and Sarah Tylinski, and Brian and Katie Tylinski.

Family and friends described Burns in his obituary as someone with a “magnetic personality,” whose “boundless positivity and kind spirit left a mark on all who met him.”

A funeral service for Burns will be held at The Wallingford Funeral Home at 809 N. Main St. Ext. on Wednesday, November 10 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. His family is asking, in lieu of flowers, for gifts to be sent to the Wallingford Hawks Youth Hockey in Burns’ memory.