EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Pat Burns will not coach the New Jersey Devils next season after being diagnosed with cancer for the second time in a little more than a year.

Burns is resting at his home in New Hampshire after undergoing surgery last week, Devils president Lou Lamoriello said Friday. The three-time NHL Coach of the Year will start chemotherapy soon, Lamoriello said.

The 53-year-old Burns had surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer following the 2003-04 season. His treatment would have prevented him from coaching in 2004-05, but a lockout forced the cancellation of the season.

The recently diagnosed cancer is not colon cancer, a source close to the team told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Larry Robinson, who coached the Devils to a Stanley Cup title in 2000 and the finals the following season, is considered the front-runner to replace Burns for the 2005-06 season, should the NHL resume play.

“We will name a coach for next season very soon,” Lamoriello said, but he declined to list any candidates.

After months of bargaining, the league and the players’ association appear close to a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Burns was diagnosed with cancer late in the 2003-04 season. He insisted on coaching the team in the first round of the playoffs, a series New Jersey lost to Philadelphia.

Burns, who also coached Montreal, Toronto and Boston for a total of 13 seasons, disclosed his illness after the season.

Following the surgery and chemotherapy, Burns said in October he was making progress, but that he was “still not out of the woods.” Before being hired by the Devils after the 2001-02 season, Burns hadn’t coached since being let go by the Bruins only eight games into the 2000-01 season.

A former policeman from Hull, Quebec, Burns has a 501-367-151 coaching record, including an 89-53-22 mark with New Jersey.

AP-ES-07-08-05 1915EDT

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