Garrett Burnett Cause of Death: How the NHL Enforcer Died at 46

Garrett Burnett, a former NHL player who was known for his role as an enforcer, died on April 11, 2022, at the age of 46. Burnett, who played for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 2003-04 season, had suffered from brain damage after being assaulted in a nightclub in 2006. Here is what we know about his life, career, and tragic death.

Early Life and Career

Garrett Burnett was born on September 23, 1975, in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. He started playing hockey at a young age and showed a talent for the sport. He played for various junior teams in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCJHL) before turning professional in 1995.

Burnett was undrafted by the NHL and played primarily in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) for several teams. He was known for his physical style of play and his willingness to fight. He amassed 2,562 penalty minutes in his minor league career, including 506 penalty minutes in 58 games with the Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League (AHL) in the 1999-2000 season.

Burnett signed as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL on June 2, 1998, but never played a game for them. He also had brief stints with the Phoenix Coyotes and the Washington Capitals, but did not make the NHL roster.

NHL Debut and Retirement

Burnett finally made his NHL debut in the 2003-04 season with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who signed him on July 25, 2003. He played 39 games for the Ducks, scoring one goal and adding two assists. He also registered 184 penalty minutes and participated in 22 fights. His first and only NHL goal came against Brent Johnson of the Phoenix Coyotes on March 17, 2004.

Burnett was nicknamed “Rocky” for his enforcer role and his reputation for having a “face of stone”. He once broke the hand of San Jose’s Scott Parker in a fight on March 19, 2004. He signed a one-way contract with the Ducks for the 2004-05 season, but did not play due to the NHL lockout. He briefly served as the player-assistant coach for the Danbury Trashers of the United Hockey League (UHL) in 2004.

Burnett became a free agent and was signed by the Dallas Stars for the 2005-06 season, but did not play another NHL game. He suffered a hand injury in the preseason and was assigned to the Stars’ minor league affiliates, the Iowa Stars and the Phoenix RoadRunners. He played his last professional hockey game on December 17, 2006, for the Summum Chiefs of the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH) in Quebec. He was suspended by the league for throwing a net at an opposing player.

Lacrosse Career and Assault

Burnett also tried his hand at lacrosse, a sport he had played as a child. He signed with the Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) in 2006, but did not play a game for them. He played for the New Westminster Salmonbellies of the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) in Vancouver during the 2006 season.

On December 26, 2006, Burnett was attacked inside and outside a nightclub in North Delta, British Columbia. He was hit by a stool and punched by several assailants. He was taken to a Vancouver hospital in a coma and on life support. He suffered severe brain damage, especially to his left brain, which affected his speech, memory, and motor skills.

Burnett was in a coma for three weeks and underwent several surgeries. He eventually recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, but he required constant care and rehabilitation. He sued the Delta Police Department, the Corporation of Delta, the owners of the nightclub, and the bouncers for negligence in relation to the incident, but he lost the case in 2011.

Death and Legacy

Burnett died on April 11, 2022, at the age of 46. The cause of death was not disclosed, but it was speculated that it was related to his brain injury. He was survived by his wife, two children, and other family members and friends.

Burnett was remembered by his former teammates, coaches, and fans as a gentle giant off the ice and a fierce competitor on the ice. He was respected for his courage, loyalty, and dedication to the game. He was also known for his sense of humor and his love for his family. He was one of the most popular players in the history of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and a legend in the minor leagues. He left a lasting impression on the hockey world and will be missed by many.

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