Alex Burrows took his father's advice, then took time to reflect on a period when he wasn't an NHL star.
The Vancouver Canucks winger, who had three points and the game-winning goal in overtime of Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, said he was following parental instructions by having an enormous night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. Burrows's heroics, which came after he was criticized, but not suspended, for biting Boston's Patrice Bergeron in Game 1, was his way of making father Rodney proud.
"The negative press I've been getting the last few days, it doesn't affect me at all," Burrows said. "But it affects my parents, you know. My dad listens to everything. Obviously, it affects him. He told me to go score some goals and that's what really is going to hurt [critics] I listened to his advice tonight and it worked out."
Burrows's overtime winner came just 11 seconds into the extra session, and after he outworked an out-of-gas Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' star defenceman. He set up Daniel Sedin's game-tying goal in the third period with a terrific pass, and got Vancouver on the scoreboard with a quick-shot goal in the first.
The Bruins did not whine or complain about a lack of supplemental discipline for Burrows between the first and second games of the Cup final, but he certainly took some public heat for chomping down on Bergeron's gloved finger. That he avoided suspension was lucky for the Canucks, especially since there was damning video evidence of a despicable act.
The league didn't see it that way, perhaps too afraid to suspend a key player for a Cup final game, and Burrows getting a place in the lineup allowed for the overtime heroics.
"For the first few years of my career, I was on the bench for those kind of moments," the 30-year-old said. "You've got to pay your dues, you've got to work your way up. And I think I've worked hard to be in those kind of moments."
Burrows, of course, didn't start playing major junior hockey until age 19, and worked his way into Vancouver's lineup after being a minor-league free agent with the club's former American Hockey League affiliate in Manitoba. Before that, there was a bid in the East Coast Hockey League, and Burrows even considered quitting hockey because he wasn't saving money and had to work a landscaping job during the summer months to make ends meet.
"After two full years in the East Coast [league]and the lockout year when I got sent back [to the ECHL]from Manitoba, I told myself that if, at Christmas, I'm still in the East Coast [league]then I would probably pack it in and go back to school," the 30-year-old said. "All my life, I've really had to work for everything."
Burrows and his father speak after every game, and analyze his performance, before moving onto other subjects. The son has "thick skin" when it comes to public criticism, but his parents get hurt when they hear him denounced as a biting, hair-pulling, fake artist.
"I haven't read anything or seen anything," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "The league made a decision, and we left it at that."
Sedin praised Burrows for being "great at reading plays" and that skill came in handy Saturday, and in a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, when the native of Pincourt, Que., jumped on a turnover and beat Vancouver's arch nemesis with an overtime winner in Game 7. For more than two years, Burrows has skated alongside the Sedin twins on Vancouver's top line, and the chemistry he has developed with Henrik and Daniel, both Art Ross Trophy winners, is a huge reason why the Canucks lead the Cup final 2-0 heading into Monday night's Game 3.
"He came from nowhere, and he made it here [in the NHL]" Sedin said. "He's come in every year, and he wants to have a bigger and bigger role on this team. … That's how you get better."