Burroughs writes his own story as an underdog with the Canucks


From the encouragement of the West Coast Express as a kid at Langley to opening roster with the Canucks, it’s been a long journey for Kyle Burroughs.

Everyone loves an underdog, and for the Canucks, there is no better underdog story than Alex Burrows. From working hard in ECHL and playing top-level ball hockey to the top line in the NHL with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Burrows is the underdog.

Now there’s another Burrows writing his own story as an underdog with the Canucks. Or rather Burroughs.

Heading into 2021 Vancouver Canucks training camp, Kyle Burroughs was not on anyone’s radar. With only five games of NHL experience, he wasn’t even a good choice to be on the team. Instead, he was expected to start the season in the AHL at Abbotsford. After all, the Canucks were apparently on the good side of their defense with Travis Hamonic, Tucker Poolman, Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn.

Then Hamonic did not show up at the camp. Suddenly Burroughs was in a battle to be part of the Canucks’ day one roster as an additional defenseman on the right side. He took this opportunity not only for a place on the list, but also for a place in the roster.

“He deserves to be in line with the way he played.”

Rookie defenseman Jack Rathbone spent most of the preseason playing alongside veteran Luke Schenn, but when it came time for Wednesday’s opener in Edmonton, it was Burroughs with Rathbone on the third duo. .

“The fact that he’s playing says a lot,” said head coach Travis Green before the game. “The show is very different from the regular season, but I think he deserves to be in training with the way he played.”

Burroughs’ preseason performances have been relatively calm. He didn’t score any goals or wow fans with spectacular climbs on the ice. Instead, he played a simple and effective game defensively. He was physical when he needed it and never stretched too far with the puck, instead making quick passes to open up his teammates to facilitate the escape.

“He’s an aggressive guy, he’s smart, he knows his defensive details,” Green said. “Maybe he surprised us a bit with his play with the puck. We knew he was an aggressive player, but his game with the puck and his hockey skills were better than we thought, really. That’s probably what he’s here for.

After the game, Green also praised Burroughs. Although he and Rathbone played limited minutes, the two dangerous scoring chances limited. Even when they were on the ice against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for a few shifts, they kept the puck in the attacking zone and out of danger.

“He had a quiet game,” Green said. “He made some nice, subtle games. Kind of what you’d like to see from a young D. Didn’t make any glaring mistakes and you sometimes know when you don’t notice a guy in the game that much it’s not a bad thing, it is a good thing for a young defender.

“You don’t notice me, I think it’s good.”

On Friday morning, Burroughs joked that going unnoticed was exactly his job.

“Jack is a hell of a player, he’s got a lot of skill, he moves really well,” said Burroughs. “For me, whenever I can give him the puck and let him show his skills, and you don’t notice me, I think that’s good.

All of his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He cleverly jumped out the backdoor for one of the Canucks’ best scoring chances, taking a pass from Nils Höglander and nearly putting a bouncing five-hole puck on Mike Smith.

Green, however, had his eyes set on more subtle play.

“Even a simple game – I think it was the first period – where he knocks a puck in front of the net,” Green said. “He has a hockey sense to know where [the puck] is.”

It might not sound like much, but the piece Green was talking about was a clever read from Burroughs, rushing past his man in front of the net to reverse a shot attempt and immediately set off a scramble in the net. ‘other way.

That Green trusts Burroughs to play with Rathbone says a lot. Both defenders are rookies, although Burroughs is several years older. If Green has shown a preference for veterans in the past, Burroughs is certainly an atypical veteran.

And, if Rathbone is gaining more ice time as the season develops, it’s easy to see Burroughs’ ice time increase as well.

“I wore number seven growing up because of Brendan Morrison.”

For Burroughs, even a game with the Canucks was a dream come true. Growing up in Langley, Burroughs was a huge Canucks fan as a child and was an avid fan of the West Coast Express.

“These three guys, they were the cornerstones of the organization,” Burroughs said. “I wore number seven growing up because of Brendan Morrison. Obviously, Markus Naslund himself was fun to watch and I still say to this day, whenever I’m in the box, I just think of Todd Bertuzzi when he comes out of the box and scoring those goals in the box. breakaway. I still hope to have the opportunity.

Nic Petan had already claimed number seven before entering camp, so how could Burroughs resist wearing Bertuzzi’s former number 44?

It was a long way to the Canucks, however. Burroughs was a seventh-round pick for the New York Islanders in 2013 and signed an entry-level deal with the Islanders in 2015. He never played a game for them, however, however, working in the AHL for five. seasons. In fact, like the former Homophonic Canuck, Burroughs had to pay his ECHL dues, albeit for just 18 games compared to Burrows’ 134.

Still, Burroughs has played 324 AHL games. We cannot say that he has not paid his membership fee.

“Being a kid from my hometown, I wasn’t sure I would ever have the opportunity.”

For the 2019-20 season, Burroughs has been named captain of the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, which is a sure sign you won’t be called up to the NHL anytime soon. The Colorado Avalanche, however, saw some potential in the young defenseman and traded for him ahead of the 2020-21 season, signing him a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Burroughs finally made his NHL debut with the Avalanche last season, but only played five games for a Colorado team. When he got the chance to sign with the Canucks, he jumped at the chance.

“When they called my ears went up for sure”, says Burroughs. “Being a kid from my hometown, I wasn’t sure I would ever get the opportunity. Obviously, the opportunity presented itself and it was too exciting to pass up. I’m just ecstatic.

Now 26, Burroughs finally has the chance to become an everyday NHL player. Better late than never.

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