Although former Canuck Alex Burrows’ playing career has moved on from Vancouver, he undoubtedly cemented himself among the greatest players to ever suit up for the Canucks. The Ring of Honour cements the difference makers in the franchise, and it’s hard to argue Burrows not belonging with the handful of individuals currently enshrined in Rogers Arena.
Currently, there are only six players in the Ring of Honour: Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk Mclean, Thomas Gradin, Harold Snepts, Pat Quinn and Mattias Ohlund. Each one of these players left a lasting mark on the franchise and its fans. After almost giving up on hockey while wasting away in the ECHL, Burrows earned a shot in the AHL, and from there, his story began.
A feisty, shift disturber and some will say a royal pain in the ass, Burrows got under the skin of so many opponents and chiselled his way to becoming one of the league’s top pests, and for a time, one of its most infamous villains. He was no stranger to controversy and often had the NHL waiting to drop the hammer on him.
Many remember “Auger-gate” and “the bite” as well as many incidents that didn’t get Burrows suspended but had his critics out for blood. Alex played on the edge, and his ability to adapt to almost any role made him a fan favourite. Getting a spot alongside the Sedins at the height of their careers put Burrows in the spotlight much more than he could have ever imagined.
He wasn’t just a pest or an energetic workhorse; he was as clutch as they came. You don’t have to look too far to find the goals that put him in a category all his own in Vancouver.
Times were tough before this goal, and ultimately, it turned the team around, and Vancouver began an epic rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks that postseason which, wouldn’t you know it, Burrows would spell a few years later.
That series took a lot out of every Canucks fan young and old and for myself, I man-cried. I remember the Pavel Bure breakaway goal against the Flames in 1994, and I believe this goal against the Hawks lifted a huge weight off of the franchise’s shoulders. That goal may define Burrows, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Going back to the Auger-gate saga, he outed referee Stephane Auger for taking a personal grudge against Burrows and applying a payback penalty to get even for embarrassing Auger in a prior game. It got a tonne of play from all forms of media and eventually, Auger no longer officiated in the NHL.
It wasn’t all controversy for #14; he helped ease the pain of losing fellow teammate Luc Bourdon to a motorcycle accident by scoring a memorable goal and shooting a tribute arrow to the sky for Luc which became a staple for the crafty winger.
An unlikely star, Burrows took his game to the next level and scored a goal in the Stanley Cup Final that seemed too easy against a Bruins team that eventually pummelled the Canucks in seven games to win the Cup. His wraparound overtime goal in Game 2 of the Final caught most people off guard when it came right after overtime started.
There are stories of many people still walking back from the washrooms at the game that never saw it.
Going back to Jackson McDonald’s article shortly after Burrows left for Ottawa. Statistically, he deserves serious consideration up top. You saw there that his goals rank 9th all-time in a Canucks jersey and 6th all-time for games played. Not bad for a guy that was almost better known as a star ball hockey player than a guy that was a win away from a Disney rags to riches tale.
Having met Alex the day after he signed his first big contract, he was as genuine a person as you’d ever meet. People often laud him for having helped continue to raise awareness for mental health with Mindcheck.ca and his numerous contributions and visits to the local charities and hospices in BC. On the ice, Burrows appreciated the game as someone who knew he was privileged even to be there and off it; he was larger than life as a superhuman being that always had time for fans.
I am leaving out a tonne of moments that all contribute to Burrows being in the ROH and if you look at who the Canucks have already inducted, how can you not have Burrows there?
In his final days as a Canuck, he told management if there was a trade to be made he would waive his NTC to help the team out. The trade to the Senators materialized and coming the other way was Jonathan Dahlen, a top-notch Swedish prospect that could be one of the players that form the next generation of incredible talent in Vancouver.
Looking at Burrows career in Vancouver, he was quite similar to Pat Quinn and Kirk McLean in a few ways. His stubbornness and creativity gave the Canucks a chance in so many games when they otherwise would have been written off. He was versatile on almost every line and could transform from a third line checker to a first line sniper.
Comparing Kirk to Alex has to be their clutch play. We all remember “The Save” in 1994 when McLean stacked the pads against Robert Reichel and ultimately led to Bure scoring his goal that took the Canucks to Game 7 versus the Rangers in that year’s Final. Alex potting the OT winner versus the Blackhawks was as similar a moment as there is and I’m sure McLean agrees it’s right on par in importance in Canucks history.
There will be a time when Burrows will retire, and this discussion will officially begin, and by then the Sedin twins will be up in the rafters with their numbers retired. As good as the Twins were/are, if it wasn’t for Alex having amazing chemistry with the two of them, the Canucks might have a very different look, and they may never have had the chance to play in Stanley Cup again.
It also must be noted that if former Canuck, Anson Carter wasn’t greedy after a successful season with the Twins, we may never have seen Burrows propel to the level he has.
One day Burr will be up there and what a day that will be.