It looks like Alex Burrows’ tournament might already be over in his first stint with Team Canada. Six minutes into the second period against Slovakia, Burrows left the game after an unlucky collision in the offensive zone. While it has not been confirmed, Burrows bore all the hallmarks of a concussion and may be done for the tournament.
If he is indeed diagnosed with a concussion, the focus changes from representing his country to the potentially long and difficult recovery during the off-season. At bare minimum, he is expected to miss Saturday’s game against Team USA.
I didn’t end up watching Canada’s first game of the tournament until the afternoon. I was anticipating a “Burrows Watch” throughout the World Championship, chronicling his performance at the tournament game-by-game, but it doesn’t look like that will be happening. If his tournament is indeed over, it will be heartbreaking for Burrows, who was so proud to represent his country after his unlikely journey to the NHL.
The injury occurred where Burrows can normally be found: charging to the net. As he went hard through the slot looking for a pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, he got tangled up with his check, Tomas Kopecky of the Florida Panthers. Burrows lost his edge and Slovakian defenceman Ivan Baranka went flying over top of him. While accidental, the impact was still severe and Burrows appeared to hit the right side of his head on the ice as he went down.
Burrows struggled to get to his feet and needed assistance leaving the ice, looking wobbly and woozy the entire time. The scene was remarkably similar to one from the regular season, when Cody Hodgson tripped into a hit by Nick Foligno and wobbled his way off the ice with a disconcerting grin on his face. Hodgson didn’t suffer a concussion on the play, which might provide some small measure of hope for fans of Burrows.
Prior to the injury, Burrows was playing well. As the oldest member of Team Canada, he was put on a line with two of the youngest, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Burrows is almost exactly 12 years older than Nugent-Hopkins, who still isn’t the youngest player on the team. That honour goes to defenceman Ryan Murray, who is 5 months younger and is draft-eligible at 18 years old. He was added to the team late by Kevin Lowe, who is, of course, also the President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers, who hold the number one pick in this year’s draft and could use a top defenceman. Just saying.
Burrows, wearing number 41 as Eberle had already claimed 14, made an impact early, checking winger Michel Miklik partially into the bench midway through the first period. Team Canada opened the scoring a few minutes later on a pretty goal by Jamie Benn. Slovakia tied it up two minutes into the second on a one-timer by Red Wings prospect Tomas Tatar, and Burrows’ line came out for the next shift.
It was Burrows’ best shift: after Nugent-Hopkins just missed Burrows with a breakaway pass, the two combined for some strong cycling below the Slovakian goal line. Burrows suffered his injury on his very next shift. Canada hung on to win the game 3-2, with goals from Eberle and Andrew Ladd.
This kind of injury is exactly what many fans fear when players from their team play in this kind of tournament, but once Burrows was asked to play for Team Canada, there was no way he was going to decline. Burrows has had an incredible journey from being the Wayne Gretzky of ball hockey to his days in the ECHL with the Greenville Grrrowl [sic], Baton Rouge Kingfish, and Columbia Inferno, to working his way up in the Canucks organization, ending up on the wing of the Sedins as part of one of the best lines in the NHL.
Playing on Team Canada is, in many ways, a crowning achievement for Burrows. To go from where he was to where he is now, as one of the top hockey players in Canada, is a phenomenal story. There was simply no chance he would say no to that kind of opportunity.
At this point, Canucks fans can only hope that the injury is not as bad as it looks and that Burrows will either be back in action in Finland and Sweden or recover quickly back to full health in Canada.Tags: Alex Burrows, injury, World Championship