December 01, 2019

Alex Burrows Improbable NHL Career

I know the rest of the league hates Alex Burrows. But I truly believe if you knew the long odds he has over come, knew the quality person he is off the ice, and were able to watch him objectively over a period of time, that every hockey fan could only have the highest respect for Alex Burrows.

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.

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."
Here's the full story.


Chazac said...

How the hell can Alex Burrows be considered an 'elite NHL player'? You're joking correct? Alex is a flopper extrodinaire and no one in the NHL OUTSIDE of Vancouver can stand the guy!

Joe Pelletier said...

I'm guessing you missed the part about observing him objectively. He has really cleaned up his game since arriving in the NHL. He is still a disturber sure, but an excellent player as well.

The reason why no one else can stand him is he is so good.

Chazac said...

Objectively .... what do you think of Brad Marchand? Do you think he is one of the BEST PLAYERS in the NHL?

Joe Pelletier said...

Objectively - Marchand has all the tools to be every bit as good as Burrows and who knows perhaps better. He's already proven to be clutch.

It's too early to judge Marchand. He's only been in the league two seasons. Let's see if he, like Burrows, can be an important contributor to one of, if not the best, line combination in the entire league over the span of 2 or 3 seasons and keeps the Bruins on top of the league at the same time.

Then we can judge him fully.

Chazac said...

You're not making a definitive statement on Marchand. You did, however, with Burrows and I am challenging it as hyperbole. Joe, I love your articles but your Canucks colored glasses show up way too often. I view Burrows and Marchand as very similar players (with almost the exact same stats). I am a Bruins fan and I don't view Marchand as an 'elite player' - far from it. He plays the role well. We call him 'The little ball of hate'. He is Claude Lemioux incarnate. Sometimes I hate him too. Especially when he takes stupid penalties. However, I think he *is* maturing and I think Patrice Bergeron is working with him to get him to change for the better. BTW - If you want to do an article on someone running under the radar screen, Patrice for the Selke *is* a story. He deserves it.

Joe Pelletier said...

I'm not making a definitive statement on Marchand because his career is too brief at this stage. Burrows has excelled on one of the best lines in hockey for three years. He's a clutch player. His body of work allows for a definitive statement. Yes, I think he is a top player.

Is that Canucks coloured glasses? Maybe. But those glasses never stopped me from giving the Bruins credit. I love Chara and Lucic, and also really like Thornton and Bergeron. I give credit where credit is due. I think it is time that others start giving Burrows the credit he is due.