Last year was one to forget for Alex Burrows, as the pesky winger spent most of his season dueling with a series of factors that by themselves would prove nearly insurmountable obstacles. Crammed into one injury shortened season, they were just too much to overcome.
When looking for an explanation as to what went wrong for Burrows in 2013-2014, injuries almost immediately come to mind, but the all too apparent disconnect with
new ex-Canucks head coach John Tortorella surely didn’t help either. These factors and a cumbersome PDO managed to drag Burrows season to the ground and keep it there for a good long while.
Is this indicative of the direction Burrows career is heading in? Find out on the other side of the jump.
If the aforementioned reminder of just how awful Burrows last season was doesn’t send the message home, consider for a moment that Burrows nearly set a record for most shots by a forward in a season without a goal. The often illegible winger came up just two-short of Craig Adam’s record 81-shots without a goal for a forward.
But for a second, let’s just try to put the unfathomable run into perspective. Some facts:
- Burrows averaged 29 goals/season from ’08-’12
- With signing bonuses being taken into account, he’s making $8 million dollars this season.
- 661 players scored a goal in ’13-’14 before he did. Tom Sestito, himself, had 5 goals.
- He had played nearly 650 minutes, and taken 81 shots on goal before finally scoring.
Playing on a team that struggled to muster anything in the way of offense, Burrows was still averaging an impressive 7.4 shots/60 mins last. Dimitri did a good job of pointing out in that same article that Burrows was not only generating shots at a half-decent rate, but getting glorious scoring chances as well. This one in particular comes to mind.
Pretty astonishing stuff, right? Now, as for the injury bug that hit Burrows in a big way last season… They say a picture says a thousand words, right? Take it away, TSN.
These series of unfortunate events seemed to dog-pile on Burrows as the season went on, but an often underrated factor in his decline had to be the tenuous relationship he and John Tortorella shared. Rumor has it, John Tortorella wanted Burrows bought out post-haste upon arriving in Vancouver. After failing to get his way on that front, Tortorella displayed super-human pettiness and avoided a one-on-one conversation with Burrows until, roughly, Christmas. Oh, an ode to maturity.
John Tortorella: professional hockey coach. RT @BmacandTaylor: Burrows: Didn’t have a conversation with Torts until Christmas last season.
— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) September 18, 2014
Barring a meteor hitting his car on the way to Rogers Arena, there is literally very little in the way of things that can go worse for Burrows this season. The less vociferous and considerably more stable Willie Desjardins has already gone out of his way to have a private dinner with Burrows in Montreal. How’s that for a start?
“H’Alex” is also slated to start on the Canucks second-line, playing wingman to Nick Bonino and Zack Kassian. It’s safe to say that Burrows will take on the majority of the defensive workload with these two, but that’s never stopped Burrows from being offensively potent before.
The most encouraging aspect to Burrows last season is that his team controlled the flow of play roughly 56% of the time. Burrows was doing a lot of things well, just not necessarily being rewarded for it. Now, the beauty about possession statistics is that they can shine much needed perspective on what to expect from the player in question going forward. With Corsi% we are getting to the process, rather than the end result.
If there’s a continued commitment to the process, along with an uptick in on-ice sh% it seems entirely reasonable to expect Burrows on the plus-side of goals for%. Preferably, he’ll do so potting a few of his own.
The coaches commitment to possession and controlled zone-entries should help the entirety of this Canucks offence take a huge step forward from last season. With Burrows playing in a top-six role, it seems only reasonable to expect him to be among the chief beneficiaries.
Betting against Burrows is never a winning proposition. Don’t start this season.