Heavy-hearted Burke at Games for dead son

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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Brian Burke's pain from the death of his son is still raw, but the general manager of the U.S. men's ice hockey team said on Sunday he owed it to his son to attend the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Burke's 21-year-old son Brendan, who was born in Vancouver, died in a two-vehicle crash near Richmond, Indiana on February 5.

"He would have wanted me to do this," Burke, struggling to keep his emotions in check, told reporters. "I cry a little less each day. It's been tough."

Burke, also general manager of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs, said the pain was too much for him to walk alongside the athletes in Friday's opening ceremonies.

"He was a courageous kid, a gregarious kid, a compassionate kid. Very bright and cared about people," said Burke. "The saddest part was that his future was so bright. The sky was the limit for this kid."

The U.S. Olympic ice hockey team, made up entirely of NHL players, has undergone a major facelift since an eighth-place finish in Turin four years ago. Only three players on the current team have Olympic experience.

The United States open the preliminary round with a game against Switzerland on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank Pingue)