The following article, written by Scott McKenzie (@Scotts_Thoughts on Twitter), was originally commissioned for the Maple Street Press Canucks Annual. It wound up being cut for space, which, considering its topic, only seems fitting. Unwilling to let good writing go to waste, however, we’ve rescued it and given it a permanent home at Pass it to Bulis as a guest blog. If you still haven’t ordered a copy of the Maple Street Press Canucks Annual, which lands in stores September 13, you should do so right now.
Most would agree that the stars of the Canucks are Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler, but Vancouver employs another impact guy who often goes unmentioned when discussing their crew of elite forwards.
That’s Alex Burrows, the versatile forward that makes a measly $2 million dollars but makes superstars better; the one that’s scored 89 goals in three seasons, kills penalties, and doesn’t have a single piece of baggage. The one whose promotion to the Sedins’ unit coincides suspiciously with the sudden onslaught of accolades they’ve received. The one that potted two overtime winners in the playoffs, including a series-winning stunner to complete the exorcism of the Chicago Blackhawks.
It’s clear that Burrows has no problem flying below the radar. He can go ahead and score another 30 goals this season, and still won’t get the respect he deserves outside of Vancouver. But he likes it that way, and so do the Canucks. Why else would he play for such a minuscule amount of cash when he could have made close to double on the open market?
Sure, he may have dropped in goal production last season, but no one complained. They know this team wouldn’t be the same without him.
Burrows is the guy that retrieves the puck after ever Canuck milestone, including every game-winning goal in the playoffs last year. His teammates became so used to Burr scooping the puck from the back of the net that, when he found himself beneath the pile at the end of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, everyone else forgot, and Canucks’ mascot Fin had to have his back.
Burrows and Fin have a lot in common. Both aim to please, they’re almost always all smiles (and prone to the occasional bite), and neither one gets much time on the Canucks’ powerplay.
Yes, he’s on the second unit and most likely will remain there this year, but the Canucks and assistant coach Newell Brown primarily play a stacked first unit that leaves Burrows on the outside looking in. You can’t blame them for going in that direction, either, with two 40-goal scorers in Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin on the team and one of the best passers in the game in Henrik Sedin playing ahead of him.
So Burrows is overlooked again. Who cares? He certainly doesn’t. Burrows scored the fourth most even-strength goals in the NHL last season. He’s only scored six powerplay goals in his entire career.
Come October, it will be much of the same.
Are his stats inflated because he plays with the Sedin twins, two of the most prolific point producers in Canucks’ history? Probably. But the role as the Sedins’ finisher is a difficult one to keep. Sure, Anson Carter netted 33 in 2006 with the twins, but by the next season, he was gone.
Taylor Pyatt was momentarily successful with the Sedins, and so were Jason King and Trent Klatt. And all of them were deemed expendable. None of them were as clutch or as automatic as Burrows is and will be this season, no matter who he’s playing with.
Take the “exorcism” goal he scored to finally beat the Blackhawks in a playoff series. Ninety nine per cent of scorers in the NHL would have tried to settle down the puck so that they could make a move on the defenseless Corey Crawford.
Burrows, though, jumped on that opportunity with a knuckle-puck that, as Russ Tyler said in the second Mighty Ducks movie, is “hard to be accurate but it drives goalies crazy.” Suffice to say that Crawford understood what Russ was talking about afterwards.
This season, there will be new candidates for that coveted position that Burrows has held alongside the Sedins, on a mostly consistent basis, for three consecutive seasons. If Burrows isn’t producing for a few games in a row, Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault will have a plethora of options to replace him.
Mikael Samuelsson will get a look, just like he did last season, and Marco Sturm, Jannik Hansen, and Chris Higgins will probably get a shift or two here and there. But it seems unlikely that Burrows will be replaced. He’s been too durable and too successful for anyone to displace him. Each time he’s been demoted it’s been temporary. Burrows works too hard and he knows the Sedins too well.
Plus, it wouldn’t be fair to the Sedins.
Scott McKenzie is a community sports reporter in Alberta and a graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Bachelor of Applied Journalism program. He’s been following the Canucks his entire life to make up for his mediocre hockey career.Tags: Burrows, guest blogging