poetica Posted December 18, 2016 Share Posted December 18, 2016 Ed Willes: Alex Burrows built his career on proving people wrong Quote Alex Burrows has been around long enough to cite the influence Todd Bertuzzi — no joke — had on his career, so when he showed up at training camp this September and found himself skating on the fourth line, his situation didn’t have to be explained to him. He was a 35-year-old coming off a nine-goal season, who was in the last year of his contract. Some in the organization believed he could still help the team. There was a stronger belief he should be bought out or buried in the minors. So, taking all this in, Burrows didn’t ask a lot of questions. No, in the spirit of the great Lloyd Christmas he just thought, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?” and went about making himself an indispensable part of this franchise one more time. We’ve always known the Montrealer is wired differently than most. This year just proves it yet again. “I wasn’t sure where he’d fit in this year,” Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said on Saturday as the Canucks prepared for the Columbus Blue Jackets. “I didn’t know. The good thing is he knew. He knew what he wanted to do. He wasn’t going to come back and just try to hang on. “I guess he’s proven people wrong his whole career. People have always wondered if he’s going to take the next step or keep doing it. But he always finds a way.” Even if he’s the only one who can see that way. Friday night, Burrows drew the primary assist on Luca Sbisa’s goal, then added an empty-netter in a 4-2 victory over Tampa the Canucks needed the way roses need rain water. On the season he’s returned to top-six duty and his six goals and 14 points have been found money for a team desperate for offence. But those numbers don’t begin to tell the story of the influence Burrows has had on his young linemates Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi or his impact on the locker-room. Desjardins’ team is in tough virtually every time it takes the ice but there have been games this year that Burrows has coaxed a winning effort out of this group through the sheer strength of his will. That he’s done that at all is impressive enough. That he’s done it when he looked to be the forgotten man heading into this season might be the most remarkable chapter of his remarkable career. “He’s made our team better,” said Desjardins. “Look at his career,” said Horvat. “He’s always had to work for everything.” Horvat, just so you know, was seven-years-old when Burrows broke in with the East Coast league’s Greenville Grrrowl 14 years ago, and, with Baertschi, the trio forms an odd confederacy. Desjardins admits he was just throwing names into a blender when he came up with this configuration for a Nov. 15 game against the Rangers. But that night the Canucks snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 5-3 win and the line has been the team’s most consistent unit ever since. “He has a passion for the game and I think his will to win drives our line,” Horvat said. “It makes Sven and I better players and he keeps us honest.” Burrows, for his part, has found kindred spirits in the two kids. He cites their own competitiveness and desire as the key to the line and says all three have been on the same page since they were put together. “They want to drive the bus,” Burrows said. “It reminds of when I broke in and Kes (Ryan Kesler) was thinking he wanted to be the next go-to guy.” Kesler? Really? “Well, maybe they’re not as grumpy,” Burrows conceded. Still, it’s been a nice story on a team that can use some nice stories. Burrows’ career already read like a hockey version of Rudy before this latest turn — two years in the East Coast league before he got a break with the Manitoba Moose and an even bigger break with the Canucks; the uncertain first years when Alain Vigneault threatened to cut him loose, the chance placement on a line with the Sedins that led to a five-year stretch when he averaged 28 goals a season. But, beginning with an injury-plagued 2013-14, the last three years haven’t been as inspiring for Burrows. John Tortorella wanted to buy him out after that season. Last year wasn’t a whole lot better and now that he’s facing unrestricted free agency, well, like we said, no one has to draw Burrows any pictures. But this year he’s reminded the faithful what makes him special, what makes him a player who’ll go up in the Canucks’ ring of honour one day. They might have forgotten, but it’s back this season and it’s been a fine thing to see. http://theprovince.com/sports/hockey/nhl/vancouver-canucks/ed-willes-alex-burrows-built-his-career-on-proving-people-wrong Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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