Alex Burrows proud to once again represent Canada
Vancouver, BC — His skates felt as foreign as he did Tuesday when Alex Burrows pulled on a Team Canada jersey to play for his country against Switzerland. Burrows had done it before, but it seemed a lifetime ago.
Nine years after winning a gold medal at the ball hockey world championships in Switzerland, Burrows skated on a line with Jamie Benn and Corey Perry as Canada beat the Swiss national team 4-2 in Kloten in the Canadians’ final warmup for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships that start Friday in Sweden and Finland.
“Nothing, except out of breath,” Burrows said on the phone when asked if he had scored. “The worst thing is my equipment got lost. It was already on its way from Vancouver to Montreal on a truck somewhere. So I had to get brand new gear – skates, gloves, pants, everything. Good thing I’m low maintenance with my gear.”
Burrows, the 31-year-old Vancouver Canuck winger from Montreal, also won a ball hockey gold medal for Canada at the 2005 worlds in Pittsburgh. Undrafted in the National Hockey League and unsure how long he would continue pursuing a career on ice, Burrows was struggling just to get out of the East Coast League while starring at those ball hockey summits years ago.
It was beyond his imagination back then that he might one day actually play in skates for Team Canada.
Burrows was officially added to the Canadian roster on Saturday, although he had agreed last week after a phone call from Dave Nonis, one of general manager Kevin Lowe’s assistants on Team Canada, to join the team in Europe. Burrows’ wife, Nancy, and their year-old daughter, Victoria, will travel from Montreal next week.
Canada opens the tournament Friday in Helsinki against Slovakia.
Born eight months before winger Patrick Sharp in 1981, Burrows is the oldest player on the Canadian roster.
“I didn’t even think I’d make it to the NHL when I played those tournaments [in '03 and '05],” he said. “To be here now, seven seasons into my NHL career and representing Canada, I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of it.
“There are so many good players who have played for our country. For me to get a chance to play, I didn’t really expect this. Ever since I was a kid, I always remember watching the world juniors and watching Team Canada. I remember Mario Lemieux scoring on that 3-on-1 [at the Canada Cup] in 1987. Even at the Olympics in Vancouver, I think I was the loudest guy in the building cheering for the team. It means a lot to be part of it – to try to win a gold medal.”
Just as Burrows has come a long way to get back in a Team Canada jersey, so has he evolved as a player in the NHL.
For those who see only what they want and prefer their villains dressed in black, for ease of identification, Burrows will forever be the agitator who dives and bites and whines about Stephane Auger.
Critics fail to see the player who has developed a 200-foot game, the winger who has averaged 29 goals the last four seasons while going plus-107. Burrows should get more votes for the Selke Trophy than he does.
He didn’t merely tag along as Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s triplet in Vancouver, but contributed to their emergence as stars.
Critics don’t acknowledge the player who works every night like he’s still back in Greenville or Baton Rouge or Columbia, clinging to his hockey dream and concerned about his next paycheque.
Burrows has earned this opportunity to play for Canada.
And with a maple leaf on his chest at a tournament that still means something, he has the chance to soften, at least a little, what some people think of him.
His legacy as a player should go well beyond a place in ball hockey’s Hall of Fame.
Via Vancouver Sun. By Ian MacIntyre.