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.