Burrows Travels From ECHL To NHL

By Cleve Dheensaw
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

VICTORIA, British Columbia – If the ECHL, the NHL’s double-A level farm league below the triple-A level AHL, needs any poster boys, there’s always Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks and Michael Ryder of the Montreal Canadiens.

You can get to the Show from the any level of pro or junior, even if the route is long and steep. But it takes a special kind of determination and tenacity.

“The ECHL is a good league when you’re young and a good starting place at the pro level, but you have to stay positive and work really hard because it’s really tough to get noticed. But anything is possible,” says Burrows.

Burrows, a forward whose job is to disrupt the other team’s flow, proved it and is now going into the second year of a three-year guaranteed contract with the Canucks.

“The ECHL was fun back in the day. It gave me a chance to show my skills, because all along, you dream about playing in the NHL. It’s a good launching pad, but you want to be moving up from there after a season or two.”

That’s exactly the blueprint Burrows followed after graduating from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 26-year-old turned pro in 2002-03 and split that ECHL season between the Greenville Grrrowl and Baton Rouge Kingfish, which eventually became the Victoria Salmon Kings. Burrows scored 73 points for the then-Canucks-affiliated Columbia Inferno of South Carolina in 2003-04 before getting the call-up to play for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL the following season.

From there, he took it all the way to the Show. Who would have thought when Burrows was plugging away after the Kelly and Calder Cups that one day he would graduate to talk about going after the most famous Cup in hockey?

“Winning the Stanley Cup is the main goal for this [Canucks] organization,” says Burrows.

That’s the team goal. Burrows has already achieved a rather remarkable one on a personal level.

“You have to believe in yourself and your dream,” he said.

Burrows did. And because of that, the Canucks have a useful role forward for their third or fourth lines.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007