The Ottawa Senators bought out the final year of Alex Burrows’ contract recently, and it will unsurprisingly mark the end of his long professional career. Burrows has announced his retirement from playing hockey at the age of 37, ending a 13-year NHL career. Quickly though, the Laval Rocket—the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens—named Burrows an assistant coach for the upcoming season.
Burrows has had quite the playing career. Undrafted because no one even knew who he was, he didn’t even play in the QMJHL until 19. Fighting his way onto a roster and developing into one of the best players for a Shawinigan team that included Jason Pominville and Zbynek Michalek, he earned himself a chance in the ECHL. It didn’t take long for him to climb the ranks in the minor leagues and eventually break in with the Vancouver Canucks. Just a few seasons into his NHL career he was playing on the top line, and scoring 117 goals over a four-season span between 2008-12. That 35-goal campaign in 2009-10 would never be replicated, but Vancouver fans will never forget his accomplishments in the regular season and contributions in the playoffs.
It wasn’t all success for Burrows though, who was well known for his over-the-line play at times. He racked up 1,134 penalty minutes in his NHL career, and even faced a ten game suspension in the most recent season. He was also involved with an infamous “biting” incident with Patrice Bergeron during the Stanley Cup Finals, though was never suspended for it.
In all, there’s a lot to like for the Canadiens in adding Burrows to their coaching staff. There are few players that had to fight as hard as he did to carve out an NHL career, and those who have were rarely met with his level of success. Who better to teach the young prospects and minor league players what is required to make it at the highest level, though perhaps some of the antics will be left out of those discussions. For Burrows, it is the end of a 913-game NHL career; one that has been among the most interesting and entertaining—one way or another—of his generation.