With Christmas on the horizon and the decade coming to a close, it is the perfect time to rank the best Canucks of the 2010’s. This is the Canucks Advent Calendar.
Each day until Christmas I will rank one player until we have the top 25 of the 2010’s. These Vancouver icons will be ranked on their statistics, impact on the city and overall play during their time with Vancouver. Rankings will be based on the player’s Vancouver tenure during the 2010’s only, prior seasons with the team will make little impact to the rankings.
8. Alexander Burrows (2005 – 2017)
Statistics: 822 GP, 193 G, 191 A, 384 PTS, 1066 PIM
Alex Burrows embodies the ultimate underdog for Canucks fans. It’s a story as old as time itself – an unlikely hero outworks the odds and captures the hearts of the masses. Burrows had to fight and claw for every second of ice time that he earned in Vancouver. He wasn’t drafted, he wasn’t even supposed to make the AHL. The Quebec native climbed through multiple leagues to make it the NHL. While in the NHL, Burrows would make his way through the lineup. From fourth line grinder to first line winger on the best team in hockey; Burrows was a warrior.
Alex Burrows was stuck in the ECHL throughout numerous seasons in the early 2000’s, . It wasn’t until a breakout season with 73 points in 64 games that Burrows was given a shot to play for the Manitoba Moose. In his first season with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, the yappy depth-forward would spend over 100 minutes in the penalty box. Even early in his career, Burrows was loved by teammates and absolutely despised by opponents. Furthermore, his attitude would remain with him well into his NHL career and become one of his greatest assets.
While playing for the Moose, Burrows would form relationships with long time teammates Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler. Each of these players would rise through the ranks and become NHLers at similar times. Their chemistry would prove valuable as they would one day help form the greatest Canucks team in franchise history. Burrows was called up after posting just below a point per game at the AHL level during the 2005-06 season. For the remainder of his career, he was never sent back down to the American League.
Early NHL Career
Alex Burrows’ stay in Vancouver should have been temporary. He knew that he would have to take advantage of every opportunity if he wanted to stay in the big league. Burrows made an impact, he got into a fight in his first game. He would work hard night in and night out. For 43 games, Burrows put his heart and soul into his game. He would have 12 points and 63 penalty minutes to show for his hard work. Burrows would maintain a similar status during the following season. With this being said, he was able to suit for 81 games. This yappy French kid was now an NHL player.
During the 2007-08 season, Alex Burrows made himself at home on the third line. A breakout season saw him post 31 points and a career-high 179 penalty minutes. This was a transitional period for Vancouver. They were moving on from former leaders like Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Trevor Linden. This would prime things for players like Burrows, Bieksa, Kesler and the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel to takeover in Vancouver.
This transitional period saw Burrows take a massive step forward offensively in 2008-09. He would improve his point total to an impressive 51 throughout that season. Vancouver would fall in the second round of the playoffs. During this season, Alex Burrows proved something to his critics. He showed hockey fans everywhere that with hard work you can accomplish anything. Alex Burrows, an ECHL player had somehow wound up as 50-point top-six forward in the NHL.
Slaying the Dragon
Although he had found a way to climb through the ranks and improve his game he was still not at his offensive peak. He would achieve this offensive peak during the following season. In 2009-10 Alex Burrows would reach a career-high of 67 points. This grinder was now playing with the Sedin twins scoring 35 goals. Times had changed and Vancouver had forged a new core-group. This core-group would be looking for postseason success. This success would have to wait longer as Vancouver would fall to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round for the second consecutive season.
Burrows would miss 10 games and point totals would falter slightly during the following season. However, Vancouver would achieve success as a team. The 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks were the first team in franchise history to be awarded the President’s Trophy.
This team was fired up when the playoffs rolled around and they were matched up with the Blackhawks in round one. Three games into the series and Vancouver would lead 3-0. Unfortunately, things would take a turn following this lead. Soon after, the series was tied at three and Vancouver was risking elimination to the same team for the third consecutive season. Before they knew it, overtime was upon them and only one goal was standing between devastation and bliss. Then we heard the call.
“He has slayed the dragon” proclaimed announcer Jim Hughson.
Alex Burrows had scored in overtime. He had “slayed the dragon” and lifted a weight off of the entire team’s shoulders. This was the biggest goal in franchise history. Although Vancouver would lose in the cup finals, this would be arguably Vancouver’s greatest team in their history.
For the next several seasons Alex Burrows would age and his skills and performance would dwindle. He was traded to Ottawa Senators in 2017. With this being said he was remembered as a leader and the ultimate underdog. Alex Burrows came from humble beginnings and scored the biggest goal in Canucks history. Alex Burrows deserves a spot on the Canucks Advent Calendar. For these reasons among others, Alex Burrows is the 8th most impactful Canuck of the 2010’s.
I hope that you have enjoyed this installment of the Canucks Advent Calendar! Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next player on the list!
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