Super pest

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

To no one's surprise, it was Canucks forward Alex Burrows that Jason Arnott jumped Tuesday night when the Nashville Predators played host to the Vancouver Canucks.

Burrows wouldn't be doing his job unless he was at the bottom of a pile after having made an opponent snap.

Against the Predators it was a clean, open-ice hit on J.P. Dumont that set Arnott off.

"I wasn't surprised, I knew somebody was going to come at me," Burrows said. "I could have dropped my gloves and fought him, but I would rather have a seven-minute power play.

"People might say I turtled or whatever, but I'll take a beating to get a seven-minute power play. That could have been a big difference in the game.

"We didn't score, but we still managed to get the win and that's all that matters."

Burrows, 27, is considered one of the biggest pests in the game. It's his job -- and the main reason he's been in the league for the past four seasons.

"Looking back, I wanted to play in this league for so long and I wanted to do something to get noticed and stick in this league," Burrows said prior to last night's game against the Oilers.

"I'm not the guy with the most skill, but I play as hard as I can every night. I have to play against the other team's top players and get under their skin, and if that helps our team win games, then I'll do it because that's what it's all about."

LONG ROAD

It was a long road to the NHL for the native of Pincourt, Que., who didn't play major junior hockey until he was 19.

After a couple of seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL, Burrows went on to toil in the ECHL before eventually signing a free-agent contract with the AHL's Manitoba Moose in 2003.

Two years later, he signed with the Canucks and played his way onto the roster.

"When I first got to junior I was just really happy to be there," Burrows said. "But I was playing with guys that were drafted and were all NHL prospects. I thought if I'm able to play with those guys in junior, then maybe I'll be able to play in the NHL, too.

"Hockey wasn't my first priority back when I was younger. I went to school, I did a lot of different things.

FOR FUN

"As a kid you always dream of being in the NHL, but it's not always possible when you don't get drafted and you don't really know what it's all about. At first I was just playing for fun, that's what kept me going and it's been a dream come true for me."

Burrows is having a strong season, with eight goals and eight assists in 29 games heading into last night's contest. Of those eight goals two have come shorthanded, while the other was a game winner.

"If he's getting players' attention on the other team, then you know he's doing his job," said Canucks assistant coach Rick Bowness.

"But he's also having a good year offensively. He's doing a lot of things to help this team win, not only being an agitator.

"He's one of our top penalty killers, he's very reliable defensively and he scores big goals. He helps us in a lot of ways. But when he's on his game, he's a pain. That's a good thing."

Last season, Burrows finished with 12 goals and 19 assists and led the Canucks with 179 penalty minutes. He was also one of four players to play all 82 regular season games.

"I just want to go out there and compete," Burrows said.

"We play a lot against other team's top lines. We know those guys have a lot more skill than we do, but if we have a better work ethic and work harder than them it evens out."


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