Burrows basks in bigs

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

He might be in for a big raise at the end of this season, but hockey has never been about the money for Alexandre Burrows.

The Vancouver Canucks winger was pretty ecstatic making less than $500 a week in the East Coast Hockey League between 2002 and 2004 after two years with the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL.

"I was young, I was 21 years old and just happy living my dream playing hockey as a living," said the Pincourt, Que., product who now finds himself on the Canucks' top line alongside twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

"You don't need any more money. You just pay your groceries and a few cocktails with the boys.

"Once I was there, I just wanted to move on to the next level and work hard for it."

With 13 goals and 28 points in 57 games in the NHL this season, Burrows is going to get a bump from his $525,000 salary either from the Canucks or on the open market if he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Just a handful of years ago, Burrows never imagined he'd be playing in the NHL, nevermind ascending to a top scoring line.

"It was my dream, but when you're down there (in the ECHL), you really work hard to get out of there," said Burrows.

"But it's not easy. There's not a lot of scouts. Those markets down south in the ECHL aren't really hockey popular.

"I was just trying to work hard and get a place to play in the American League. Once I got there, I was only one step behind the NHL, so I just kept going and finally made it."

Some of the credit for his graduation through the ranks goes to those who helped him along the way.

Manitoba Moose GM Craig Heisinger offered Burrows a chance in the AHL for the lockout season, and Moose head coach Randy Carlyle -- now behind the Anaheim Ducks bench -- helped him take the next step.

"He taught me a lot," Burrows said of Carlyle. "It was all about hard work. We didn't really get any days off. We had to come in and ride the bike and work hard."

Carrying that attitude and work ethic forward has earned him his spot beside the Sedins, where he's bound to improve upon his already respectable statistics.

Not bad for a guy whose responsibilities with the Canucks over parts of four seasons has mostly been to keep the other team off the scoreboard.


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