After 913 NHL games, 822 of which came with the Vancouver Canucks, Alex Burrows announced his retirement from hockey on Friday.
“I’m happy with my career and have some great memories,” said Burrows, announcing his retirement through the NHLPA website. “I met some wonderful people over the years. I’ll miss my teammates the most. The amount of fun we had working on our craft, the time we spent together away from the rink, the time we went through adversity together – those are things that I’m going to miss.”
After going undrafted following his junior career, Burrows played 134 games in the ECHL, playing for teams like the Greenville Grrrowl (yes, with three R’s), Baton Rouge Kingfish, and Columbia Inferno. The NHL must have seemed a long way away in those days, but in fact, he would make his NHL debut just one season after his final ECHL game.
Burrows earned his way onto the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, playing a season and a half before getting a call-up to the Vancouver Canucks midway through the 2005-06 season. He didn’t waste his opportunity.
Probably the hardest worker in franchise history, Burrows was never sent back down to the AHL over the next 13 seasons. He played 12 years with the Canucks before agreeing to waive his no-trade clause in 2017 to help the team’s rebuilding effort.
After initial success with the Senators, helping the team to an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final, things went sour in Ottawa. The Sens, who are in now in the process of rebuilding, decided to buy out the final year of the 37-year-old’s contract.
“I would like to also thank my family, who have been so supportive of me throughout my career. My wife (Nancy) has always been there for me. My kids (Victoria, Lexie and Jacob) were born in Vancouver and they got to see me play. I had some wonderful times in Vancouver and I enjoyed my time in Ottawa.”
Entering the league as an agitating, checking winger, Burrows rose to prominence as an unlikely perfect fit on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. With Burrows by their side, each Sedin won an Art Ross Trophy.
While Burrows was clearly a beneficiary in that relationship, don’t discount what he brought to the table. Burrows did the dirty work, used his hockey sense to help out in the cycle, and finished off scoring chances – scoring 26+ goals in four straight seasons.
Burrows scored some of the most famous goals in franchise history, most notably, scoring the ‘dragon-slaying’ goal to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 in 2011. He ranks 14th all-time in Canucks history in points, and ninth in goals. A career +106, only Henrik and Daniel Sedin rank higher in plus/minus.
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Burrows was never more valuable than in the playoffs, where he ranks seventh in goals and tied for first with three overtime goals.
“It all went by fast,” Burrows added. “It was a lot of fun and it was a lot of work early on, to be undrafted and come into the league and earn your spot. I’ve had some great teammates and great coaches. The last few years, I’ve enjoyed helping the young guys out, the way others had helped me.
“When you have the passion, that’s one thing. You have to set a vision and have a plan for yourself. I feel very fortunate to have played as long as I did.”
Burrows leaves the NHL having played 913 regular season games, scoring 205 goals and 409 points. He added 19 goals and 39 points in 85 playoff games.
“The fans are great,” he said. “They have always been behind me wherever I played. During my time in Vancouver, the fans embraced my game and embraced me away from the rink. That’s something I’m going to miss. Winning the game, scoring a goal – those are always special moments you remember when you played in front of your home fans.”
Burrows previously expressed an interest in getting into a management role after his career was over. Perhaps there’s room for him in the Canucks organization one day.
But for now, it appears he has accepted a job as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens’ farm team, the Laval Rocket.
No job with the #Canucks, Burrows retires and will be the assistant coach with the Laval Rocket, the Montreal Canadiens farm team.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) July 6, 2018
We can now begin the debate for Burrows being inducted into the Canucks’ Ring of Honour. But if you ask this writer, there’s no debate at all.