“Welcome to the best rink in the world boys!”
Alex Burrows didn’t hold back his affection for the Bell Centre Wednesday when the Canucks arrived for morning skate. As he, Philip Larsen, Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi and Alex Biega checked out the digs from the visiting team tunnel, Burrows talked about how rowdy the Bell Centre gets and how the atmosphere is unmatched in the NHL.
Having grown up in Pincourt, Quebec, a municipality on the island of Île Perrot, off the western tip of the island of Montreal, Burrows knows his Canadiens. He grew up a diehard Habs fan, as the majority of kids from Quebec do. That’s just the way it is. The 35-year-old doesn’t remember a time when the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge weren’t top of mind and he admitted to still being a fan of the team today.
“The guys give me a hard time because when we get to Montreal sometimes the Canadiens will be playing on TV and I’ll put it on to watch,” laughed Burrows. “I’m still a fan. I remember coming to the Bell Centre with buddies when we were young, we’d take tours and see the dressing room and all the trophies.”
Burrows, who missed the last four games because of a neck injury, returns for the Canucks tonight, looking to help Vancouver win for the first time in five games. He’s never scored against the Canadiens in Montreal; in seven games at the Bell Centre Burrows has one assist and 21 penalty minutes.
“I’ve been close to scoring,” said Burrows. “We’d play there when I was young, that was a thrill, and I scored a lot then. It would be nice to get one next game.”
If Burrows can light the lamp for his first goal of the season, his family will witness it. He paid for 14 tickets so all his family could attend the game, including his parents and both his sisters.
Tuesday afternoon after the Canucks skated at Complexe Sportif Bell, Montreal’s practice facility, Burrows jumped in a cab en route to visit his older sister Catherine, who works as Youth Services Director for the Mental Illness Foundation (Partners for Life Program). We filmed a Hockey Talks segment with the Burrows siblings, who remain very close despite the coast-to-coast distance separating them.
“When he’s in town of course the family all wears Canucks jerseys and shirts and Canadiens fans are never too impressed,” smiled Catherine. “I tell them I’m supporting my brother and that’s one of the only acceptable reasons to not cheer for the Canadiens here.”
Although Burrows said he’s fallen in love with Vancouver because of the weather, quality of life and the incredible people, when his hockey days are done he’ll return to Montreal to be closer to family.
He’ll likely be back at the Bell Centre then, again and again as a fan, cheering on his Habs – hopefully with bragging rights of having scored against the Canadiens in Montreal.
Yes, I’ve had smoked meat poutine since we’ve been here and yes, it’s delicious. I also learned popular etymology here is that poutine is from a Québecois slang word meaning “mess.”
Here’s hoping the Canucks make poutine out of the Canadiens tonight!