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Canucks’ forward Burrows praises former coach Vigneault

Mar 31, 2014, 9:43 PM EDT

Alex Burrows Getty Images

Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers are in Vancouver to face the Canucks on Tuesday. So, naturally, the return of Vigneault, the head coach of the Canucks for seven seasons until last spring, has brought a lot of memories back.

Take Alex Burrows for instance. He not only played for Vigneault as a member of the Canucks, but also with the former Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League for a season. Burrows made the jump from the minors, which included stops in the ECHL as well, to the NHL, and he gives Vigneault credit for helping him with achievement.

He also gives Vigneault credit for helping turn the Canucks into an elite team not that long ago.

“As a player, that’s what you want — somebody to guide you in a direction and give you challenges that you can succeed at, and he did that with me,” Burrows told The Province newspaper on Monday.

“You didn’t hear from him until training camp, but once it started he was well prepared. He had his opening-day speech and it wasn’t just written on a napkin.

“We were tough to play against away from the puck and once we got it we had the freedom to do things in the offensive zone. He liked high-percentage plays, that’s the biggest thing. To not give the other team easy goals.”

Vigneault was fired last May, after the Canucks were swept in the first round of the playoffs. They were only two years removed from making it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

But Tuesday’s match-up features two teams going in opposite directions. Vigneault and the Rangers are fifth in the Eastern Conference and in good shape to make the playoffs. The Canucks are 10th in the West. Their playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread, five points back of the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes.

Vancouver’s struggles have meant a great deal of criticism toward head coach John Tortorella and general manager Mike Gillis.

Interesting because the Rangers and Canucks essentially swapped coaches last off-season (New York fired Tortorella, hired Vigneault, and the Canucks fired Vigneault and hired Tortorella).

“You guys are going to make your opinions and talk about it because it’s kind of a unique thing,” Tortorella told reporters on Monday.

“We’re losing games, so I’m the idiot. Alain’s winning games, so he’s the smart guy. Rightfully so. When you lose games and you struggle, you’re going to get scrutinized. That’s part of the business and I should be scrutinized.

“But how you think about … style of play and all that, I think sometimes there’s not a true understanding of what’s going on. But as far as the records concerned, I get that.”

  1. cordellanderson - Mar 31, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    No class. No class at all.

    • c9castine - Mar 31, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      who exactly are you talking about

    • 19inarow - Mar 31, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      Cordella is such a pretty name.

  2. comeonnowguys - Apr 1, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    That’s rather biting commentary.

  3. pastabelly - Apr 1, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    If Burrows is implying that his all time craptastic season has something to do with Vigneault not being around, that’s nothing more than a lame excuse. Burrows needs to act like more of a pro and take responsibility for his performance. FIVE freaking goals? Just STFU.

  4. nicofthenorthstar - Apr 1, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I bet Torts appreciates these comments coming from his team. That’s gotta make for some awkward moments in the locker room.

    • imleftcoast - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      ‘Opening-day speech written on a napkin’ that seems specific.

  5. jimthebear - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Both tens suck.. Neither is making the playoffs.. Both teams have reasonable talent.. Enough for a playoff entry. The fact that neither team will make the payoffs show they are both bad coaches.

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