Alex Burrows calls an end to eventful 13-season NHL career

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A week after being bought out by the Ottawa Senators, Alex Burrows has announced his retirement. He’ll join the AHL’s Laval Rocket as an assistant coach.

“I’m happy with my career and have some great memories,” Burrows said via the NHLPA. “I met some wonderful people over the years. I’ll miss my teammates the most. The amount of fun we had working on our craft, the time we spent together away from the rink, the time we went through adversity together – those are things that I’m going to miss.  

“I would like to also thank my family, who have been so supportive of me throughout my career. My wife (Nancy) has always been there for me. My kids (Victoria, Lexie and Jacob) were born in Vancouver and they got to see me play. I had some wonderful times in Vancouver and I enjoyed my time in Ottawa.”

The 37-year-old Burrows played 913 NHL with the Senators and Vancouver Canucks. Before he reached The Show, he got his professional start by playing parts of three seasons in the ECHL. A noted ball hockey player, he’s also a 2010 International Ball Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.

Burrows won’t be making the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he was one of the league’s elite pests during his 13 seasons in the NHL and often found himself at the center of controversy.

The Auger affair

After a game in 2010, Burrows accused referee Stephane Auger of targeting him for penalties as retaliation for a dive that resulted in a game misconduct call on Jerred Smithson of the Nashville Predators a month earlier.

“It was personal,” said Burrows. “The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit.  “He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third.”

When he was asked if he expected to be disciplined by the NHL for calling out an official Burrows replied, “I don’t know, but I think [Auger] should sit out the rest of the year, making calls like that.”

It was such a messy situation that even Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean ended up apologizing to Burrows for a segment where he defended Auger.

Burrows would eventually be fined $2,500 by the NHL for his comments. Auger would retire two years later and is currently working in the Swiss League’s player safety department.

Biting Bergeron

The 2011 Stanley Cup Final was an emotional series. The bad blood generated pretty quickly and Burrows soon found himself in the middle of an incident that would be talked about plenty.

During a scrum in Game 1, Burrows found himself tied up with Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. As Bergeron was trying to issue a standard face wash, Burrows saw the forward’s glove in his face, so he decided to take a chomp of a finger.

Burrows escaped punishment. 

“After reviewing the incident, including speaking with the on-ice officials, I can find no conclusive evidence that Alex Burrows intentionally bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron,” NHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy wrote in a release explaining the decision.

In Game 3, with the Bruins holding a 4-0 third period lead, Milan Lucic didn’t forget about what Burrows had done and decided to tempt him to take a bite during a post-whistle scrum. Let’s not forget Burrows’ tussle with Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.

Yeah, it was an eventful series.

The O’Sullivan taunt

The former NHLer revealed on Twitter that Burrows recalled the physical and emotional abuse O’Sullivan received as a child from his father as an on-ice chirp nearly a decade earlier.

“I apologize if I offended him back then. I did say some stuff that may now, looking back … I could see how it would’ve offended him, like a lot of things I said back in the day,” Burrows said via TSN. “I read his story on The Player’s Tribune. It’s tough to see.”

Kneeing Hall

“He punched me in the back of the head like 10 times. He kind of lost his mind.”

That was New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall’s reaction to Burrows going off on him during a game this past February.

 

The NHL decided to step in and suspended Burrows for 10 games.

“He is what he is,” said Devils head coach John Hynes.

But it wasn’t all bad

The controversy will forever outshine the good moments from Burrows’ NHL career. But there were some memorable moments that didn’t involve any sort of dirty play or trash talk.

There was the overtime goal in Game 7 to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Of course, there was the other OT goal, this time in Game 2 of the Final that spring to give Vancouver a 2-0 series lead.

Finally, who could forget his bow and arrow tributes to the late Luc Bourdon, first scoring a pair of goals in the Canucks’ first home game after the young defenseman’s death and then the overtime series-clincher against the St. Louis Blues in the first round later that season.

There was never a dull moment when Burrows was around, that’s for sure.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

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SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

“Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

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The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

“I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.

Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs

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SUNRISE, Fla. — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights lost eight of 10 games going into the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division at the midway point of the NHL season.

They’re still safely in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they can’t keep it up.

“We’re still in a good position – that’s the way we look at it,” Cassidy said. “There’s not too many teams that can cruise home the last 30 games in this league, and we’re certainly not one of them.”

Cassidy’s old team, the Boston Bruins, probably could. They’re atop the NHL and running away with the Atlantic Division.

With 39 wins and 83 points through 51 games, Boston is on pace to break the record for the best regular season in NHL history. The Carolina Hurricanes, who beat Boston in seven games in the first round last year, are next in the standings at 76 points.

“Top to bottom, there’s no weaknesses,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

The Bruins are in a class of their own, but the playoff races behind them in the East and West should be hot down the stretch with roughly 30 games to go before the chase for the Stanley Cup begins.

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

The Hurricanes rode a seven-game winning streak into the break, putting some fear into the Bruins in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage through the postseason. Winger Max Pacioretty re-tearing his right Achilles tendon five games into his return didn’t slow them down, and if their goaltending holds up, Carolina stands a good chance of reaching the East final.

“This team, it’s a special group of guys,” said Brind’Amour, who captained Carolina to the Cup in 2006 and is in his fifth year as coach. “We kind of show that nightly. It’s just very consistent, and they take their job real serious. They do it right.”

The second-place New Jersey Devils are contending for the first time since 2018. Bottoming out the next season helped them win the lottery for No. 1 pick Jack Hughes, a two-time All-Star who has them winning ahead of schedule.

“Much better than being out of the mix,” Hughes said. “We’re really excited because it’s going to be a lot of important hockey, and it’s going to be really competitive and we’re really pumped to be where we are.”

They’re followed by the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. All three New York-area teams could make it, which was the expectation for the Rangers after reaching the East final last year.

“I think the run last year really taught us a few things and stuff that we obviously could build on for the rest of this year,” 2021 Norris-Trophy winning defenseman Adam Fox said.

ATLANTIC

The Rangers lost to the Lightning in six games last spring, when two-time champion Tampa Bay reached the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season before getting beat by the Colorado Avalanche.

The Lightning are almost certain to face the Toronto Maple Leafs – who haven’t won a playoff series since the NHL salary cap era began in 2005 – in the first round and remain a threat to the Bruins.

But Boston has separated itself despite starting the season without top left winger Brad Marchand and No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins have lost only 12 games under new coach Jim Montgomery.

“You just keep winning,” said All-Star right winger David Pastrnak, who’s tied for third in the league in scoring. “Every single line and every single guy is going and it obviously builds our confidence. It’s funny sometimes what confidence can do in hockey.”

The Islanders should have some more confidence after acquiring 30-goal scorer Bo Horvat from Vancouver, but still need to make up ground to get in.

CENTRAL

Defending champion Colorado climbed in the standings – winning seven of eight going into the break despite an injury-riddled first half of the season. Captain Gabriel Landeskog still has not made his season debut since undergoing knee surgery. It would be foolish to bet against the Avs coming out of the West again.

“It’s up to us: We control our own fate,” All-Star center Nathan MacKinnon said. “We need to definitely keep playing the way we were before the break. No matter who’s in the lineup we were playing well, playing hard, so it would definitely help with healthy bodies.”

They still trail the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in the Central, and the Nashville Predators are on their heels. Only the Stars and Jets are essentially guaranteed a spot.

“Every point, you grind for it,” Stars leading scorer Jason Robertson said. “Every point’s going to be a dog fight, so it’s going to be a fun 30 games down the stretch.”

PACIFIC

Undisputed MVP favorite Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who were swept by Colorado in the West final, have a little bit of catching up to do in the Pacific Division.

The top spot is held by the Seattle Kraken, who surprisingly are on pace to make the playoffs in their second season but still need to fend off the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights.

Edmonton – and the Battle of Alberta rival Calgary Flames – have the talent to not only get in but make a run. McDavid leads the league with 41 goals and 92 points, 16 more than No. 2 scorer and teammate Leon Draisaitl, and is producing unlike anyone since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in the mid-1990s.

Now he’ll try to carry the Oilers into the playoffs and beyond.

“It hasn’t been easy at all for our group. We’ve kind of had to battle for everything that we’ve got,” McDavid said. “We’ve always been a second-half team for whatever reason. Even since my first year, we’ve always been better in the second half, so we’ll definitely look to continue that. That being said, we’re not going to hang our hat on that and expect that to carry us to the playoffs. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Capitals sign Sonny Milano to 3-year, $5.7 million extension

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Washington Capitals signed winger Sonny Milano to a three-year extension worth $5.7 million.

General manager Brian MacLellan announced the contract, adding to an already busy All-Star break for taking care of future business. The Capitals extended forward Dylan Strome for five years, $25 million.

Like Strome, Milano has fit in as a new addition for Washington. He’s now set to count $1.9 million against the salary cap through the 2025-26 season.

The 26-year-old Milano has been a near-perfect bargain signing for the Capitals after joining them on an NHL veteran one-year deal after this season got underway. He has eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 40 games since getting called up from Hershey of the American Hockey League.

Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets 16th in 2014, Milano split his first eight seasons in the league with them and the Anaheim Ducks. He went unsigned as an unrestricted free agent last summer despite putting up 34 points in 66 games with Anaheim.