"I saw his skate come right up my throat, and right away I grabbed my neck and said there's something coming out here," Burish said. "There were a couple drips, so I was pretty darn lucky."
It was the second period, and Burish and linemate Ben Eager were forechecking in the Detroit zone when Eager and a Detroit player got tied up. Eager lost his balance and his skate flew up and clipped Burish in the throat.
It was a play reminiscent to the scary Richard Zednik incident last season, when Olli Jokinen's skate blade sliced Zednik's jugular vein.
But Burish was more fortunate; he skated away from Eager's out-of-control skate knowing he was a lucky man.
"I don't know how I'm so darn lucky," Burish said. "It was centimeters, millimeters away from slicing (his throat)."
Eager said he had no idea he had nearly injured his linemate, but Burish could remember the whole thing.
"I don't know how my head is still connected here," he said. "I saw his skate -- it was like he did a figure skating move and kind of whipped his skate up. I just watched it go right into my neck."
Remarkably, not only was Burish not severely injured, he didn't need stitches and didn't miss a shift. After the game, there was almost no trace of the wound. Even after nearly suffering what could have been a life-altering injury, Burish wore a smile with his neat suit; he joked that his mother watching at home would probably be more upset than he was.
"Probably harder for my mom to shake if she was watching on TV," Burish said. "You just kind of forget about it."
Besides nearly getting his throat cut, Burish turned in his usual strong, agitating effort. He scored the game's first goal on a turnover in front of the Detroit net, took two shots in 12:30 of ice time. He also took a four-minute cross-checking penalty for hitting Kris Draper in the game's final minute.
"Burr brings it every night," Eager said. "He's got a lot more skill than people give him credit for. He's been one of our best players in the playoffs. … He plays hard every night. He finishes all his checks, he likes to get in your face, he goes to the net and stays there until you move him. That bothers people and that's what makes him effective."
Burish has been especially effective in the playoffs. The goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals was his third in 13 playoff games, following a regular season where he scored just six times in 66 games.
He's also racked up 26 penalty minutes, second on the team. He may play like the Western Conference's version of Sean Avery, but Burish leaves that persona on the ice -- he's one of the more popular players in the Blackhawks' locker room.
"The guys on my team, they understand what I'm trying to do," Burish said. "When the game's done, when hockey's done, I leave it in the dressing room, I leave it on the ice, that's it for me. I'm not the same person off the ice that I am on the ice. My mom asks me the same question, 'Why do you act like that out there? Why are you fighting? Why are you yelling at guys out there? Why don't you just play? Marty Havlat looks nice out there; why don't you act like Marty Havlat out there?' I said 'that's not me, mom.'
"I think the neat thing about hockey is guys do understand that when it's done, it's done, and you can still be a pretty good guy off the ice even though you're a jerk on the ice."
In his second full NHL season, Burish has embraced the role of villain.
"I love it. I love every second of it," Burish said. "I like when I see guys get mad at me, I can tell they hate me. I can hear them say it to (the media), 'That Burish is an idiot, he's a clown.' I want to hear that. That makes me feel good."
Burish was asked which he liked better --- scoring a goal or drawing a penalty.
"Scoring a goal is always fun," he said. "It's always fun to contribute that way. But when you see a guy get pretty ticked off, punch you in the face, that's good, too."
Better a punch in the face rather than a skate.Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Staff Writer