From undrafted to the NHLDoesnt want Canucks to trade himSimilarities between Horvat and KeslerWith the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, the Vancouver Canucks are in the thick of the battle for a Western Conference playoff spot.Four-time 20-goal scorer Alex Burrows has served in an important mentorship role this year for a team in transition, playing primarily on a line with Vancouvers top two goal-scorers, Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. On December 30, the 35-year-old became just the sixth player to play 800 games with the Canucks. Burrows also joined Vern Fiddler and Chris Kunitz as the only active undrafted players to hit the 800-game mark in the NHL.Sportsnet caught up with Burrows after practice on Tuesday at Rogers Arena to talk about his climb to hockeys top level, the positive energy surrounding this years Canucks and how he deals with hearing his name in trade rumours as the March 1 deadline approaches. SN: We know how it works for the top prospects and their draft experiences. I want to hear what it was like for you (as an undrafted player) coming out of the QMJHL. How do you sign up with the ECHLdid you have to do that yourself? Do you have an agent? How does that work?AB: (chuckles) Yeah, you get an agent For me, my goal was alwaysas a kidthe dream was to play in the NHL and play for the Canadiens, growing up in the 80s, watching them win Stanley Cups. Your dream as a young boy is to play in the NHL, but as you get older in your teenage yearsmy mom was a principal and always preaching school first and its not like I was dominating in minor hockey; I was mostly playing for fun. Bo Horvat Jersey Once I got older in the Q, after my overage year, I felt I had a good year and I was playing with some guys on my team that were first-, second-, third-rounders. I felt like I could compete with those guys, so if they were drafted I felt maybe I could give it a shot. That being my dream, I figured I might as well give it a shot for a couple of years.But then, I got invited to the New York Islanders training camp. I went for three days and quickly realized how much work I had to put into becoming a full-time profe sional and full-time NHLer. I quickly realized that I wasnt even close to being ready to battle with guys playing in the NHL. For me, to start in the ECHLonce I got to the ECHL, I was happy to be playing pro hockey but for me, playing in South Carolina where NCAA basketball and NCAA football are the prime sports, people dont really know anything about hockey or theres not that many fans or theres not any scouts. Especially back then, in the early-2000s, social media wasnt there, the internet was basically just starting and games werent on TV like today. For me to get noticed, I had to find ways to get noticed. I was willing to do whatever it took to get to the next levelto get to the AHL and get noticed, I was going to do anything. Score some goals, or fight, or agitateI was willing to do it to move up.Luckily enough, someone saw me onceCraig Heisinger, from the Winnipeg Jets now but Manitoba Moose back then. He saw me and liked my game. Gave me a shot to play for the Moose.Once I got to the Moose, I only had one more level to get to the NHL so for me, I approached it the same way. Whatever it takes to get to the next level. Be a good teammate, be a good team guy but at the same time, try to get to the next level.A few breaks here and there, a few lucky bounces, a few injuries in VancouverI got lucky to get my first shot in the NHL.You ask for opportunity, I got it when Crow (Marc Crawford) gave me some ice time. Once AV (Alain Vigneault) came in, he really gave me a good shot, especially a few years later when I got to play with the (Sedin) twins.SN: When you came up with the Canucks, I think it might have helped you to come through with guys like Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler, that you were familiar with from playing with the Moose.AB: Oh, for sure, yes. I had been playing with Kes, who was a first-rounder, the next big thing, for a year and with Kevin for a year and a half. Kevin was a fifth-roundera little bit more like me, under the radar kind of guy that would come up. Rick Rypien, toowe were both undrafted, both coming out of junior trying to make an impre sion for ourselves and trying to push for a roster spot. I think we had a good bondespecially my first year, I lived with Kevin at the hotel so we were able to talk a lot and experience it together. It was very good to have someone that was living the same things that I was living at the time.We had some great leaders at the time: Trevor (Linden), Nazzy (Markus Naslund), Brendan Morrison. Even Bert (Todd Bertuzzi) was great to mepeople say a lot of stuff about Bert but he was a really great mentor for me. Trevor, obviously, and even Clouts (Dan Cloutier), whos now coaching with us. I was lucky enough to have good people around me and get some opportunity. You ask for opportunity, I got it when Crow (Marc Crawford) gave me some ice time. Once AV (Alain Vigneault) came in, he really gave me a good shot, especially a few years later when I got to play with the (Sedin) twins.SN: When you came in, the team was in transition, moving out of that period of the West Coast Expre s and Trevor. Thats not di similar to where the teams at now.AB: Yes. Top Canucks scorers in Burrows’ rookie season (2005-06) Markus Naslund: 32-47-79Henrik Sedin: 18-57-75Todd Bertuzzi: 25-46-71Daniel Sedin: 22-49-71Brendan Morrison: 19-37-56 SN: Can you compare the mood around the team from 2006 to where youre at today?AB: I think so. Theres a lot of similarities, thats for sure. Ive seen the full cycle of it.I think one of the big things back then was my second year, when Dave Nonis traded for Lu (Roberto Luongo). That was a big trade around Vancouver and it really gave us a solid goaltender. We mi sed the playoffs the first year; the second year we were pushing for a playoff spot. We were battling all season long to get into the playoffs, like we are right now. We played Dallas in the first round and had a really good, long series against them.A lot of similarities. I find this group right now is really tight. I feel like a lot of young guys are really getting Sven Baertschi Jersey along. The older guys, we feel their energy, their excitement. Every day, they come to the rink and theyre happy to be here. They want to push, they want to succeed, they want to help their team win and its good to see.Especially compared to last year, I feel we have a much tighter groupa group thats willing to go to war together.I can see Bo becoming as good of a player as Kes one daythats for sure.SN: One of the breakthrough periods for you, I think, was when you were playing on that checking line with Kesler.AB: Yes.SN: I see a lot of similarities between Keslers game and Bo (Horvat)s game.AB: Oh, for sure.SN: Can you talk about how that manifests on the ice, as someone whos out there alongside them?AB: There are a lot of similaritiesboth guys are really driven, then both want to drive the bus. Sometimes coaches want to push guys to drive the busit just comes naturally to some players. I feel Bo and Kes really have that quality. They both want to get better. They both dont want to get denied.The biggest difference is that the game has changed from 12 years ago, when Kes started. Now, theres not as much after-the-whistle play as there used to be back then, where Kes was pretty good at it. Now, Bo doesnt need to bring it because the game has evolved. They both have a lot of speed. Theyre driven to be succe sful. They both understand the game really well, theyre learners of the game. They always try to find ways to have an advantage and get better. I can see Bo becoming as good of a player as Kes one daythats for sure. SN: Looking back at the end of last seasontoward the end of last year there were some healthy scratches (for you), there was talk that maybe you would be bought out. But Jim Benning came out during the summer and very convincingly stated that you were coming back and you were going to be an important part of the group this season. Did he communicate that to you personally as well over the summer?AB: We had one or two talks. Jim talked to my agent a few times. They talked at the draft.Ive learned throughout the years that things can change quickly in this busine s. One day, as a manager or even as a player you feel a certain way and the following week, something happenstheres an injury or whatever the case is, it can change quickly.For me, I wanted to focus on the things I could control. That was to have a good summer working out, prepare the right way. It was the first time in a few summers that I could have a long summer of working out. I didnt have to go through surgery or anything like that so I could get a jumpstart on other guys.Thats where you put in all the work for the season, in the summer. When you prepare, thats when you can work for that long season grind, so that your body feels good throughout the year. My approach was have a positive mindset, focus on the things you can control and whatever happens, I was going to take it.When Vancouver said I would like you to come back and be a big part of this team, I was really thrilled. I love the city, I love this team, I love this organization. My kids are in school, the wife loves it and we have a good setup. So thats probably the best-case scenario for me, for sure, to come back.At the same time, I didnt want to have a year like last year. I wasnt really happy. The way the team played last year, it didnt seem like we really pushed for winning every game. We didnt really feel like we pushed to get into the playoffs. I feel like this year is totally different. Our mindset since Day 1 has been Were gonna get to the playoffs. Were gonna try to do that every night. Everybody has bought into that and so far, right now, were in the mix and were gonna give it a good shot in the last 30 games.SN: Has the coaching staff laid out a big-picture plan for how to approach this playoff push, or is it taking things game by game?AB: Its game by game, for sure, at this point. From the get-go, from training camp, thats where every year, every coach Ive been withthey set up a plan right in training camp. This is our goal; this is our vision. This is what were gonna try to do.Then you try to tweak it a little bit during the year, you try to polish it, you try to work with it because obviously youre going to face adversity, youre going to face some injuries. Youre going to play with it a little bit but at the same time, our main goal hasnt really changed and were still pushing for that right now.SN: Earlier in the year, there was quite a bit of talk that you could be a player on the move at the trade deadline. How did it feel to hear your name in those conversations?AB: Awww, Ive heard my name for a number of years now. Six, Brendan Leipsic Jersey seven, eight years ago there was a rumour about me and Kevin and Tampatheres been rumours every year. Ive been in this busine s now for 15 years almost, and I totally understand its an entertainment busine s. Whatever happens, happens. Its the things you cant really control, so why waste any energy or waste any focus on it?If it ever happens, then Ill face it the best way I can, but I dont lose any sleep. I dont read it, really. It doesnt really affect meI live my day, I have great teammates, I go home and spend some quality time with the family and then I come back to work the next day and try to put in a good workday and get better and try to be a good teammate.SN: If things dont go great in February and the team slides down the standings a little bit, would you consider waiving your no-trade clause?AB: I havent really thought about it. For me, my main focus is on winning the next game. I had a good day today in practice. Ill come back tomorrow with a good practice day and then go from there. Im not focusing or losing any sleep on stuff I cant control. I saw Tom Brady (Monday)in his pre ser they were talking about (Roger) Goodell. He was saying Im just gonna live it day by day and be positive. Im gonna have a positive mindset today. I think if theres one athlete out there that understands the pre sure and all the negative criticism, its him. Ill take a page out of his book and try to have the same mantra.SN: Lots of positives to take away from the good stretch that was happening for the Canucks in January, (9-3-3) coming out of the Christmas break. I imagine youll be looking to tap into that same energy going forward?AB: For sure. We want to keep it going; we have a tough schedule coming up. We know it wont be easywere sitting a couple of points out right now[grins]but thats what makes it fun. Thats why you play the games, play these meaningful games and try to push for a playoff spot.Theres nothing better than playing in the playoffs. Thats our main goal.SN: One last questionyoure the team representative now for the Mindcheck program and the Canucks Mindcheck game is coming up (February 18 against Calgary). Can you talk about your involvement with that?AB: Rick (Rypien) was a close friend of mine and I thought Kevin (Bieksa), when he was the amba sador of Mindcheck, he did a really good job of spreading the word. Thats probably the No. 1 thingto try to spread the word and tell people that are suffering from mental illne s that its okay to talk about it and its okay to reach for some help. Sometimes, thats the first step to overcoming the disease is just to talk about it.I just try to spread the word and try to get some awarene s out therethrough social media and through the Canucks. There are a lot of people following our social media so if it can go out and help young teenagers and people suffering from mental illne s to seek some helpif I can help one or two or 10 or 100, Ill be more than happy.