I had hoped that Gate-gate (so dubbed by Thom Drance), the controversy that sprung up Sunday night when Maxim Lapierre put Ottawa Senators’ forward Jesse Winchester through the Canucks’ unlatched bench door, would fizzle out before it really got started. However, it hasn’t. On Monday, Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch made it an issue, putting voice to the idea that Alex Burrows had unlatched the door intentionally (what for shenanigans) and deserved suspension.

Alex Burrows plans presumably nefarious activities.

This is a big accusation. Lucky for Winchester, he skated away from the incident with nothing more than a sore back, but it could have been much, much worse. It was a scary scene, and if Burrows had purposefully caused it, I’d be fine if he saw supplemental discipline.

That in mind, let’s examine the incident.

Is Burrows guilty?

I don’t think so, but there are two major reasons to believe that he is, first and foremost the fact that he’s Alex Burrows and he was there. If that’s Sami Salo standing at the penalty box door, this one doesn’t get a second look, but it’s Burrows, and even diehard Canuck fans wouldn’t put it entirely past him. The dude is a trash-talking, groin-spearing, hair-pulling, finger-biting, French shenanigans factory; this is right in his wheelhouse. Thank God he isn’t participating in Movember, because if he was twirling a moustache during this play, it would be an open and shut case.

Burrows’ reputation precedes him. That’s reason one.

The second reason is the photographic evidence, unveiled Monday evening by turncoat Kevin Vanstone of Canucks’ blog The Flying V.

As you can see, Burrows appears to be fiddling with something near the latch of the door, and the safe assumption is that it’s probably the latch. Granted, his arm is obscured, but this does look somewhat incriminating. What to make of this evidence?

Nothing. Burrows probably did unlatch the door intentionally.

That said, I don’t think he did it with malice in mind. His explanation of the play says as much, and no, I’m not talking about the part where he says that Winchester is a good friend of his — I’m talking about the line change. From the Province:

“It was a line change and at the last minute he got hit pretty good there and the door wasn’t closed completely,” said Canucks winger Alex Burrows. “He’s a Montreal guy and one of my friends so it’s a good thing he didn’t get hurt on the play.”

This hit comes at the tail-end of a 55-second shift for the trio of David Booth, Cody Hodgson, and Maxim Lapierre. It would stand as their longest of the first period. As the great Sam Cooke once said, a change is gonna come, and it’s mere moments from happening when Lapierre takes a run at Winchester.

You can see it, too. Take a look at the video again, but this time, watch to the right of the hit, as the next group pours onto the ice.

Considering most people think Burrows is the devil incarnate, it’s a tough sell, but I’d suggest that he’s unlatching the door not so that Jesse Winchester will fall in, but so that his teammates can walk in.

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18 comments

  1. madwag
    November 22, 2011

    It certainly wasn’t “malice aforethought.” There’s absolutely no way Burrows could have known Winchester would be checked into the boards exactly where the door to the bench is. And unless he’s a complete asshole, there’s no way he, or any other hockey player for that matter, would do such a stupid thing. Surely there is some respect between players, although rewatching for the umpteenth time the head shot that put Crosby out for so long, maybe I’m more idealistic than realistic. I just don’t want to believe that Burrows could be that callous. Of course he a jock, and not all jocks are renouned for their compassion for others, particularly players on opposing teams. Perhaps he simply acted without thinking, for the moment imagining it might be kind of funny. It wasn’t funny and it could have been worse. Your supposition that he was getting ready for a line change will be found quite a stretch for those who wish to believe otherwise. In fact I find it so. With two players approaching the boards at high speed, there’s no way one is thinking about opening the gate because someone is coming off the ice. That, of course, assumes, Burrows was watching the game which surely he must have been. Now I don’t know what to think. I want to think it was never latched in the first place because Clime didn’t understand that it was his job to make sure it was secure. Will we ever know?

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    • madwag
      November 22, 2011

      Watching the video a few times, I note there were not “two players coming a high speed.” Winchester was actually standing right by the gate when Lapierre checked him. It’s now quite clear to me that Burrows could have thought it a bit of a lark to unlatch the gate. “Is Burrows guilty?” There’s at least a part of me that thinks so.

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  2. Canuckles
    November 22, 2011

    Ahem, Jesse Winchester, not Brad, silly

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    • Daniel Wagner
      November 22, 2011

      Silly Harrison. Trix are for kids.

      Fixed.

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  3. Daniel Wagner
    November 22, 2011

    The key for me is Burrows’ reaction. He’s a chirper and there’s no way he would do this on purpose and then not chirp Winchester. You can see that he’s just as surprised as Winchester is. You can see how Lapierre veers at the last second to deliver the hit: Burrows head is down as Lapierre veers, meaning he had no idea Winchester was about to be hit. He was clearly just opening the gate to facilitate the line change.

    It’s a non-story.

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    • madwag
      November 22, 2011

      Maybe Burrows is not chirping because he’s thinking, for once, “Maybe I ought not have done that.”

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      • Steven Ray Orr
        November 22, 2011

        Is this an accurate measure of Burrows’ character? When have we seem him actually attempt to hurt someone?

        Making villains of our opponents is fun enough, but let’s try not to suggest that they would try to end severely injure someone.

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        • Steven Ray Orr
          November 22, 2011

          “but let’s try not to suggest that they would try to end severely injure someone” = “but let’s try not to suggest that they would try to severely injure someone” OR “but let’s try not to suggest that they would try to end someone’s career”.

          Words are hard.

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    • J21
      November 22, 2011

      This being the Internet, I fully expect your pretty sound Occam’s-razor reasoning to go… precisely nowhere. In the world of Internet commentary, everything the party I voted for does is outstanding, and everything the other guys did was nefarious and meticulously planned. (With a few LOLs and “your a morron you looser”s thrown in for good measure).

      Much as I believe the vast majority of knee-on-knee collisions are accidents (and headshots too for that matter, although there is more recklessness involved there), I would tend to think that Burrows did not do this on purpose. Sad to say I wouldn’t rule it out either, but even if he did, I suspect it was more an unthought/reflexive moment of idiocy (the equivalent of spontaneously yelling out something stupid in public a moment before you realize how stupid it is) than a conscious decision.

      Given that Lapierre is the one who delivered the check, I’m actually surprised that a whole sub-genre of accusations hasn’t arisen that Lapierre and Burrows drew the play up in advance. “he tottaly shoutted sumething in frentch on his way to the bennch!!1!”

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  4. Wisp
    November 22, 2011

    When I clicked the link On twitter I was hoping for a dozen word article that said “Good heavens no. If you think so, you’re crazier than a Canucks fan!”

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  5. Benjo
    November 22, 2011

    Marty Turco does it and it’s funny, Burrows does it and there’s a -gate. More proof that media is grasping at straws to hate the Canucks.

    Turco vid here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcvo9axykVk

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    • cambo
      November 22, 2011

      hey Benjo, didn’t you get the memo? “we all hate Cancuks”"….

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      • cambo
        November 23, 2011

        AWESOME…. three others in Nuck nation “hate the Nucks”… the message is getting out. LOUSERS

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        • Harrison Mooney
          November 23, 2011

          Cambo, what the heck is a ‘louser’?

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          • Harrison Mooney
            November 23, 2011

            Yeah, I missed that. In my defense, I have such a low opinion of you I didn’t think you capable of wordplay.

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            • Daniel Wagner
              November 23, 2011

              Seriously? There’s nothing wrong with that sentence.

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  6. Kate
    November 22, 2011

    Yeah I don’t think this was on purpose. Burrows may be an annoying on-ice opponent but his play is rarely what would be considered “dangerous”

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  7. Harrison Mooney
    November 24, 2011

    Joke’s on you, cambo. There are no intellectual requirements whatsoever, which plays heavily into why we continue to allow your comments here.

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