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Canuck Player Autopsy: Alexandre Burrows

The "talisman" of the Canucks had a bounce back season after The Lost Year, but was also bitten by the same "bad luck injury bug" that so plagued him in the year previous to this one. I mean really, who gets knocked out of the playoffs when a linesman breaks their damn rib ?!!

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Who's this guy?

Alexandre Burrows. Mr. Everything. AMFB, Burr'. The Poutine in Poutine and Meatballs.  The man you love to hate...

Position: LW

Shoots: Left

Height: 6'1''

Weight: 195 lbs

Born: April 11, 1981 in in Pincourt, Quebec. Interesting tidbit.  Burrows is in the Ball Hockey Hall of Fame for his tremendous skill at bringing Canada Ball Hockey Gold twice in the years just before his NHL career, playing in the summers right up to 2007.

Check his player profile from the mothership here.  AMFB toiled in the ECHL for the Greensville Grrrowl, the Baton Rouge Kingfish, and the Columbia Inferno at various times from 2003 to 2005, after going undrafted after playing in the QMJHL for the Shawnigan Cataractes in 2002.  He was brought to the attention of the Canucks by Manitoba Moose front office whiz Craig Heizinger, who first gave him a chance ( 2 games ) for the Moose in 2003-04.  He signed with the big team Nov. 8th, 2005.  That is a pretty singular and unique journey to the NHL.

What'd he do?

Well, he certainly did not totally appease whatever Puck God he totally pissed off last year, as his season was ended in the playoffs, after having a much better season as far as injuries go. But he at least was in their good graces, as opposed to the overt Puck God hate that was displayed in The Lost Year.

He played 21 more games than the 49 he had in The Lost Year., and contributed a lot more than he happened to do on the score sheet.  His 18 goals and 15 assists this year were only a part of the picture that is the contribution Burrows makes to the Canucks.  There is a reason that he got the nickname "Mr. Everything".

The plan was to have Burrows play on the second line.  No, wait, the plan was to have Burrows play in the bottom six and do his usual yeoman work on a penalty kill that was once again Top 10 in the NHL.  Hold on a second, didn't he look great in those few games he played on the fourth line with Bo Horvat ?

Burr' did all of that, as well as providing the jolt that revitalized the Sedin Twins in the second half, after they started out so well with Radim Vrbata.  It was like he had never left their side at times this season.  One of the unique contributions to that line that "Canada's best ball hockey player" makes, better than just about every player that has been tried with the Twins, is how they become more dangerous off the rush with Burrows.  He can cycle better than almost everyone else that has been on that line as well.  But he makes the line more dangerous by making their attack more varied.  About the only guy that I can remember that makes them better on the rush consistently is Zack Kassian.  The Big Guy might even get that coveted spot next year, as long as he comes back from his injuries...

Oh well, like Burrows always says, "it does not matter where I am playing, as long as I am playing".

So was he any good?

Season Games Points SH% Corsi For% Fenwick For % O/D/St%
2013-2014 49 15 4.8 56 55.9 37.2
2012-2013 47 24 9.3 58.4 58.2 43.1
2011-2012 80 52 14.1 58 55.9 48.1

Yankee did such a great job with the chart I copied above, from last year's autopsy, that I am just going to use it for comparison.  I will use the tables from here.

The first thing I noticed was that he scored his first shorthanded goal in two years !  ( Just kidding, though that is true )    You can see that his shooting percentage may not have hit the heights of 2011-12, but was definitely better than the previous year to this one.  His PDO was slightly higher ( 97.9 ) than it was last year ( 95.2 ) , but still below an excellent career 101.5 since 2007-2008.

Check the Corsi For Percentage.  In The Lost Year, it was still pretty good for those 49 games at 56.1, just below the career high year for that stat, 57.8 in 2012-13.  Last year it was 52.4 %.  Sometimes we can get tied in knots with the numbers a bit, but it is safe to say that Mr. Burrows had a bounce back season.

His detractors are always going to point to the $4.5 mil he makes and his age.  But numbers aside, it was pretty easy to see that the Canucks were a better team in the 70 games Burr' played this year than in the 12 he did not.  And it is no coincidence that the playoffs went belly up around the same time that his rib was busted by a linesman just a little too into his job of breaking up a fight.  The man is still important to the team.  While anyone can get traded ( and he has a NTC in his deal ), Alexandre Burrows remains too important to this team, for me at least, to do so.  Even if one of his advanced stats numbers fell somewhat last year.

What did we Like ?

This is the fight mentioned above, with Kris Russell.  They went at it really hard, so it is not beyond belief that he hurt himself during the fight.  The report is that it happened when the linesman collapses on him at the end.  Either way, it sucked that he could not play anymore hockey afterwards.

This play I include to remind us that, of all the players in the NHL, Burrows might be in the Top 10 as far as "not getting the benefit of the doubt".  I do not put it here to open that debate again ( though it seemed pretty obvious that he was just turning up ice ).  On a collision this innocuous, there was more than a few national pundits forced to eat their words afterwards, as they all jumped back on the "Burrows = Evil" narrative.  The two game misconducts he got on the play were later rescinded as well!  That happens all the time with Our man Burr'.  And don't even get me started on how many power plays he would draw if he was know...Burrows.  ;-)

Cool. So what did we hate?

I hate that he gets "those calls" after 564 games played.  Yes, we can all remember the events of 2011, and this is certainly not to say that he is an angel, because he is not.  But it is annoying that those outside of this market, and some in this market as well, are so shockingly misinformed as to what the play Alexandre Burrows brings to the game and the team he plays for.

The man has not dived for years, but there is not a fan of another team that rivals this one who will not bring up that tired meme.  The Canucks ( I could be wrong, but I do not remember it being reported all year ) were one of the teams that did NOT have a player on the diving list.  I hate tired old narratives, in particular as to how they relate to this player.

So what now?

Well, that will always be the debate around players on this team as they age.  We are no different than other teams and their fanbases in that regard.  The "youth movement at all costs" crowd will point at the money he makes, and the fact that he could be replaced by a kid.  ( "Look at Bo Horvat...what if Hunter is that good too...?" )  I don't think that is true myself, and find the money he makes pretty fair in today's NHL for a player that makes his linemates better, is one of the better penalty killers in the NHL, and contributes in so many ways.

I do think that there is always room for a guy that is older, as long as he can still play.  AMFB proved that he can play still in this past season, and that he is still valuable and needed on this team.   His value as the "Sedin Safety Valve" to his coach alone is worth his money in today's NHL !  Willie Desjardins saw what every coach that has had him saw.  Alex Burrows rarely takes a shift off, and finds a way to contribute both on and off the score sheet.

That is not the kind of guy you just trade for a third round pick.  Of all the older players on the team that are going to engender debate about whether they should remain in this offseason, Alexandre Burrows is one that there should be little debate about.