It was the quintessential Alex Burrows moment. The game on the line, he found himself with the puck on his stick, skating in alone on the opposing goaltender. And, like he does so often in such situations, the Canucks’ winger converted, unsurprisingly, by way of the backhand move he employs so regularly we call it “Blue Steel“.
I asked him once if he worried that goaltenders were wise to it.
“I’m sure goalies have seen clips of it,” he said. “Personally, I think if I execute it like I can, it’s a tough move to stop.” Clearly, Burrows trusts the backhand shelf like Gordon Bombay trusts the triple deke.
Jimmy Howard soon learned why, as Burrows executed the move perfectly, leaving the Detroit Red Wings’ goaltender on his belly and putting the puck up high to give the Canucks the come-from-behind win. It was the second time in Burrows’s career that he had broken a meaningful streak with the move, so it wasn’t surprising to see him make reference to the last time in his celebratory gesture: to signify the broken streak, he feigned breaking his stick over his knee.
Canuck fans will remember Burrows’s gesture from the dying seconds of a 2009 game versus the Carolina Hurricanes, with the team in the midst of an 8-game losing streak and a 9-game home losing streak. Desperate for a break, Burrows got one, as Ryan Kesler poked a puck into the neutral zone to send him in alone, shorthanded.
He scored the game-winner with trusty ol’ blue steel, then introduced the Vancouver crowd to the stick-breaking gesture:
Considering what that goal meant to the Canucks and their fans, not to mention the fact that it took place in Rogers Arena, it was, without a doubt, the right place and the right time for it.
Thursday night in Detroit, however, may not have been. Jimmy Howard certainly didn’t think so. From Fox Sports Detroit:
After Friday’s practice, Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard was asked if he saw what Burrows did after he scored against him.
“I don’t even pay attention,” Howard said of the Canucks. “They’ve got a bunch of idiots over there. There are only several good guys on that team, and they know who they are.”
Howard was matter-of-fact with his comments and said that he didn’t care if he was quoted.
Shortly after Burrows did it, I wondered aloud if reprising the gesture might be seen as showboating in this case, since it wasn’t the Canucks’ streak being broken and it didn’t happen in front of their fans. You had to know that someone on the Red Wings was going to voice his annoyance with the Canucks’ celebrations.
Furthermore, when you add it to Roberto Luongo’s “Thanks for having us, you’ve been wonderful hosts” gesture as he exited the crease, it’s hard to argue the Canucks didn’t rub it in a little:
(As an aside, considering Luongo’s an Italian, this celebration needed a “Bellisima” gesture at the end. Mind you, in his defense, he was wearing gloves.)
Sure, all of this was welcome, exciting, and downright hilarious to Canuck nation (myself included), but to the Red Wings and their fans (some of whom were weeping as though they’d forgotten what losing at home felt like) it had to be pretty tough to take. The Canucks didn’t just celebrate a win — they reveled in kicking over someone else’s sand castle. If the roles were reversed, we’d all be pretty upset.
In the long run, it doesn’t matter all that much, but the next time someone talks about the Canucks being hated, instances like this are evidence of why. If you’re going to showboat after a win, you’d better be okay with being known as a team that showboats after a win.
The Canucks have done a good job most of this season at being a measured, even-keel team that avoids any attempts to play up regular-season contests as anything more than two points. Against the Red Wings, however, their actions belied any such dismissals going forward. Clearly, some games mean more than others, and Thursday night in Detroit was one of them. Unfortunately, failing to play that down only served to feed the narrative of the Canucks as classless.
Granted, if the rumours of their interest in Steve Ott are any indications, the organization hardly cares.Tags: blue steel, Burrows, controversy, Everything is Luongo's fault, Haters Yo, hey man i'm just asking, Mighty Ducks, Red Wings, trolling