Long road to show

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Alex Burrows sits beside Roberto Luongo in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room. He also plays on the same line as Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

When you've recently played for the Baton Rouge Kingfish, Columbia Inferno and the Greenville Grrrowl in the ECHL, this is the kind of stuff you don't even dare dream about.

When you are a bigger name in ball hockey than an actual hockey, playing on the No. 1 line on a top team in the Stanley Cup playoffs is pretty heady stuff.

"I was making $425 a week and living the dream," said Burrows when he came off the ice for the morning skate prior to Game 2 of the series against the St. Louis Blues.

"Not many guys go from the ECHL to the NHL. For sure that seems a little surreal to me today.

"Looking back, it is a little bit unbelievable.

"But I really was living the dream. I was playing pro hockey, willing to work hard and believing if I worked hard, I could get here."

Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault coached Burrows with the Manitoba Moose in 2005-06.

"He was the same player in Winnipeg. He was the same tough guy to play against. The same hard worker. That's what helped him progress to become the player his is today. He's a great story in perseverance."

Now Burrows is looking to become a great story in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

While he had a taste of it two years ago -- scoring his only playoff goal to send the Canucks to overtime in Game 5 against the Anaheim Ducks -- that Stanley season ended the same night.

The Canucks' 23-7-6 record since Feb. 1, is in some measure attributable to finally finding the right guy (although the most unlikely guy) to play with the talented twins.

On Feb. 10, ironically against the St. Louis Blues, Burrows was made a Sedin triplet. They've been inseparable ever since.

Burrows, who only scored nine goals in 72 games with the Manitoba Moose in the lockout season, took 28 goals and 51 points into the playoffs.

"Playing for the Moose meant a lot," he said yesterday prior to Game 2 of the series against the St. Louis Blues.

"It's where I improved the most. It was really good for me during the lockout year," he said. "The person I owe most is Craig Heisinger, the general manager in Winnipeg.

"He's the one who saw me first in the ECHL. Randy Carlyle was the coach and I owe him a lot, too, as I do Alain when I played for him in Winnipeg.

"They helped me become the player I am today. They taught me how to become a real professional."

Burrows knew what it was like to be a star. But being a ball-hockey star in the summer doesn't have the same status even if you won seven straight Canadian championships.

"I played in two world championships in ball hockey, in 2003 in Pittsburgh and 2005 in Switzerland and won both. I was the go-to-guy."

Never drafted in hockey, Burrows said it wasn't a case of the hockey scouts not noticing him.

"I wasn't really ready. I didn't think I'd have a hockey career."

"I never thought I would get 20 goals in this league. Now I'm playing with the twins ... I obviously didn't think about that back then, that it could even be a possibility.

"I look back now at my first training camp. Nobody knew me. Things have changed a little bit."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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