Sure he's an agitator. But his play is clutch and his hockey sense is elite. Don't believe me? Is it a coincidence that the Sedin twins rise to superstardom occurred with Burrows on their wing? Or that the Vancouver Canucks arrival as a true Stanley Cup contender has followed Burrows rise as a top NHL player?
He does not get a lot of respect outside of Vancouver, as he is a victim of perception that he has definitely outgrown. He has become far more than an agitator. No one can question his tireless work ethic and passion for the game, Now he is one of the league's top players. Heck, even when he established himself as a regular NHL player, no one ever predicted he would be playing right wing on the best line in all of hockey. But with his skating and hockey sense he excels at both ends of the ice, be it as a clutch scorer or as a top penalty killer. There was some talk he was on Steve Yzerman's radar for the 2010 Canadian Olympic team even.
It has been an amazing ride for Alex Burrows, a ride he has reflected upon recently as his plays his 500th NHL game against Nashville on Tuesday. There was a time when even Burrows never dreamed this was possible. He was never drafted by a NHL team, never much of a pro prospect coming out of junior. He was playing hockey outposts such as Greenville, South Carolina and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was very much a player who was never supposed to make it. But somehow he overcame long odds to not only make it, but to become one of the NHL's best players.
From Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun recently caught up with Burrows to discuss the unlikeliest of success stories:
He remembers long bus rides, punctuated by stops at places like McDonald's and Subway to help the players stretch their paltry per diems. And he remembers that all anyone seemed to care about in those places was college football and basketball. A hockey puck was a foreign object.Here's the full story.
It was a tough environment in which to chase your NHL dream, especially for a player like Burrows who had been passed up in the NHL draft.
"It was always a dream to play in the NHL and it was really a big dream sometimes with those long bus rides," Burrows said before the Canucks departed Monday for Nashville. "You are going to games where there are no scouts and no one really cares about hockey. It's all about college football, college basketball, that's all people really care about. It's tough to get out of there."