Alex Burrows makes it 500 NHL games tonight

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Everyone’s favorite Vancouver Canuck is set to play his 500th NHL game tonight in Nashville. Yes, it’s halfway to 1,000 for Alex Burrows.

Now, say what you will about Burrows, and plenty has been said, but the determination he’s shown since going undrafted out of junior is admirable. Not many NHLers can say they played in the ECHL. And not only has Burrows gone from the Greenville Grrrowl (yes, that’s the way they spelled it) to the best league in the world, he’s gone from the Greenville Grrrowl to skating on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, two of the best players in the world.

“It was always a dream to play in the NHL and it was really a big dream sometimes with those long bus rides,” Burrows told the Vancouver Sun about his ECHL days in South Carolina and Louisiana. “You are going to games where there are no scouts and no one really cares about hockey. It’s all about college football, college basketball, that’s all people really care about. It’s tough to get out of there.”

Burrows plays an agitating style that makes it easy for people to overlook all the things he does well, so he reaps what he sows in that way. But that’s the style that got him to where he is today.

Craig Heisinger, the former general manager of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, is the one who threw Burrows a lifeline out of the ECHL.

“I’d like to be able to say we saw in Alex what he has become today but the truth of the matter is we didn’t,” Heisinger said Monday. “We thought Alex would be a good replacement for Jimmy Roy, who was an absolute (bleep)-disturber and that’s how Alex played.

“To say that we projected him to be a first-line winger on one of the best lines in the NHL, that would be very much of a stretch. He’s the one who has taken advantage of the opportunity.”