Redemption for draft dodger

BARRY MACDONALD -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

He is the latest example of scouting not being an exact science. He is Alexandre Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks. He was summoned from the Manitoba Moose early this month, after scoring 12 goals in 33 games for the Canucks AHL affiliate in Winnipeg.

Prior to Winnipeg, Burrows had been employed by a veritable who's who of professional hockey, including the Columbia Inferno, Baton Rouge Kingfish and Greenville Grrrowl. The usual stepping stones to an NHL career.

Having played his junior hockey for the Shawinigan Cataractes, you would think Burrows would have been seen by a few professional scouts. Or at least made an impression on them.

He did score 35 goals in his final year in the Quebec League and he did have 19 points in 10 playoff games. More than 270 names were called in his draft year. His wasn't.

It's at that point many aspiring pro hockey players pack it in. Undrafted hockey players tend to live a nomadic existence, for teams like the Inferno, Kingfish and Grrrowl.

Your per diem fetches a Snickers bar and a Slurpee, you go four to a room in the Cockroach Inn, and you ride the iron lung from town to town. Glamorous it ain't.

But it's a safe bet that if you are willing to embrace employment in the ECHL, you have a certain belief in your ability. Screw the scouts. For undrafted players, the "E" is usually the only option. Alexandre Burrows knew that a gig with the Grrrowl wasn't a ticket to the NHL, but it was a starting place. Four short years later, he found himself in "The Show."

His story is inspiring, but not at all unique. There have been a number of undrafted, rags-to-riches stories. The most recent Art Ross Trophy winner, Martin St. Louis was undrafted out of the University of Vermont. Steve Thomas wasn't drafted. Nor were Adam Oates, John Madden, Curtis Joseph and Eddie Belfour.

Look at the history of the NHL draft and you will see some stunning results. In 1980, Bernie Nicholls was 73rd player taken overall. He finished his career with 601 goals. Fred Arthur, was the eighth player taken, by Hartford. He finished his career with one goal. In 1987, the fourth pick overall was Wayne McBean. Joe Sakic went 15th.

The Canucks took Shawn Antoski 18th in the 1990 draft. With the next pick, the Jets nabbed Keith Tkachuk. The moral of the story, for scouts at least, is not to judge a book by a cover.

Statistics may be the tangible in the equation, but there are so many other elements that contribute to the makeup of a player.

Burrows simply decided his fate was not going to be decided by that inexact science of drafting. And because of his persistence, he has 12 NHL games on his resume. Twelve more than most scouts thought he would.


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