Love him (Vancouver does) or hate him (most everyone else outside of Pincourt, Que.), Alex Burrows has made himself into one of the National Hockey League's most interesting stories.
Not irresistible, mind you. Just interesting.
The 30-year-old winger's list of transgressions amounts to a sort of Claude Lemieux starter kit, and those who point out that his most heinous crimes — hair pulling and biting — leave him just one scratching incident short of a catfight have solid, if legally inconclusive, evidence on their side.
Oh, and there's the Stephane Auger accusation, too; Burrows's 2010 allegation that the referee told him before a game that he was going to get him, and in the end called the penalty on him that cost the Canucks a game. You don't hear that uttered every day, out loud.
So he will never win the Lady Byng Trophy, or be guest of honour at the annual Referees' Benevolent and Protective Society gala. And maybe, because of all that — the sneaky little plays, the chirping, the play-acting — he's never going to be able to separate himself from the downside long enough to be recognized for the player he has become.
Undoubtedly, he is one of the reasons the Canucks are, shall we say, less than universally beloved among their hockey peers, as you might deduce from Chicago forward Dave Bolland's post-Game 1 bashing of Burrows ("Typical: pulling hair and biting people. Sort of like a little girl") and Edmonton defenceman Ryan Whitney's take on the Canucks' run ("This team is so easy to hate, it's unbelievable. I'd say 90 per cent of he guys in the league want nothing to do with seeing them win. There's no doubt their team is pretty amazing, but just who makes up that team makes them so tough to like, it's frustrating to see them do this well.")
The thing is, the sports world has always had room for all kinds, even villains.
Alex Burrows Canucks' fearless foil to Sedins, for opponents
Vancouver Sun | Jun 4