Long before Alex Burrows was scoring goals in the NHL, he was a feisty whippersnapper who spent the majority of his time with a hockey stick and an orange ball.
Burrows, a product of Pincourt, Quebec, had a knack for ball hockey growing up and it was more than getting together with neighborhood friends for a quick game of 3-on-3 to pass the time. Burrows took it seriously, insanely seriously, and so did his mates.
Thus began Burrows’ triumphant career as a ball hockey player, which ended with him alongside the all-time greats in the sport in the Canadian Ball Hockey Association Hall of Fame and International Street and Ball Hockey Federation Hall of Fame.
Here are 6 Things you should know about and Burrows and the orange ball.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
“I started playing just with buddies back home. That’s something we would do after school and on weekends or on vacation, instead of going to the pond or the outdoor rink we would just go outside and play on the street and play with the orange ball. Finally we got a bit older and ball hockey was a sport that we continued, we made a team and we’d go in a lot of tournaments on weekends, we’d win some, win some money, and that’s how it all started.”
“My first team was made up of all guys from around my neighborhood and we made this team called Living Legends and we liked to go into tournaments every weekend, like 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 and even some of them were 5-on-5, and we’d just go and try to make as much money as we could. Those were some of my best friends playing on that team.”
Editor's Note: What kind of player was Burrows? He recently came clean in an interview with the Canadian Ball Hockey Association admitting that, well, he was the bee's knees. "As a player I would be a go to guy that could score goals, but would also be very reliable defensively."
MONTREAL RED LITE
“The Living Legends wanted to become the best team in Quebec, but how it works is that it’s 5-on-5 on the whole ice surface, so you need a four-line roster and six defencemen, exactly like a 20-man roster, so we made a team and combined the Living Legends and another team from Quebec called Little Caesars. We made a team and we called ourselves the Red Lite and we went to our first national championship in Vancouver in 2001. There was a team there from Toronto that was called Midnight Express that had won the last five national championships and we came in and beat them for the first time and we won our first national championship then.”
Editor’s Note: The Red Lite went on to win seven straight national championships and Burrows was part of six of them.
THE GREATEST LINE…EVER?
“I played on a line with Benoit Gilbert and Ian Fontaine and we had some success, we were good buddies and we played so much together, just in the streets and in tournaments and that kind of stuff. Obviously we were a good line for the Red Lite in Canadian Championships and we were together for the World Championships too, so it was good.”
Editor’s Note: Oh now modest Burrows can be. The line of Burrows-Gilbert-Fontaine is considered by many in the sport to be the best ball hockey line ever. That trio was together for six National and two World Championships.
WORLD CHAMPIONS x 2
“We won it for the first time in 2003. We had just won three national championships with the Red Line, so nine of us represented Canada to go to Switzerland for the World Championship. I had never been a part of something like that, I was still in the East Coast Hockey League so I thought it was pretty cool in the summer to just play and compete with my friends, then the opportunity to go to Switzerland for the worlds came and that was pretty fun. They had a great crowd there, like 2,000 people every game and that’s not something you really see for ball hockey. We beat the Slovaks in the semis and the Czechs in the final. The World Championships are every second year and in ’05 we went to Pittsburgh and we won it there too, so it was a lot of fun.”
BUMPS AND BRUISES
“It’s pretty similar to hockey and it helped me on the ice, that’s for sure. Not only with the skills, but cardio-wise, you can’t glide out there so you have to make sure you run and you can’t really cheat or otherwise you really get beat. You have to run a lot and you have to make sure you compete because some of those guys, that’s their Stanley Cup and they really take it seriously. That’s one of the reasons why I stopped because I would get whacked and hacked and have a lot of bruises right before training camp, so it wasn’t the best thing for me.”