Veteran Burrows carving out mentor role for Senators’ young guns

Courtesy of SENS TV Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher comments on the play of Alex Burrows and his journey to the NHL.

After more than a decade in Vancouver’s green and blue, Alexandre Burrows swapped his Canucks colours for the Ottawa Senators‘ last season, joining the club for the tail end of 2016-17.

Though he only posted 16 points through a combined 35 regular-season and playoff games in his first go-round with his new team, it seems Burrows’ presence is still being felt throughout the organization. Not as a dominant offensive force, perhaps, but certainly as a mentor for the next wave of Ottawa hopefuls.

That, according to Senators prospect Francis Perron, fresh off a summer training with the veteran Burrows in Quebec.

Coming into the mix as a seventh-round pick back in 2014, Perron has since blossomed into a potential future game-changer for the Senators. Two years after his draft day, the Blainville, Que. native finished up his junior hockey career with a dominant 41-goal, 108-point effort for the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

That sterling season saw Perron finish second in regular-season scoring and first in playoff scoring as his club claimed the league championship. He snagged MVP honours – both for the regular season and post-season – as a result.

However, last season’s jump to the professional level proved a more difficult affair, as Perron’s AHL debut concluded with a lacklustre 26 points through 68 games.

Looking to right the ship and prepare himself for a breakout in 2017-18, Perron heeded the advice of his AHL general manager and turned to Burrows, who has plenty of experience rising from the bottom of the depth chart and claiming a key role in the big leagues.

“I was training with him, I was seeing him every day, he was helping me a lot in the gym,” Perron told the Ottawa Citizen‘s Don Brennan on Friday. “He’s an undrafted guy and he worked really hard to get to where he is right now. He’s been a mentor for me, he helped me through the whole summer. So it was a big difference for me.

“He’s 15 years older than me, but, still, he’s become a good friend to me.”

Working with Burrows’ trainer Stephane Dube, Perron came to camp this September ready to rewrite his story.

“I took almost 15 pounds during the summer,” Perron said. “That’s huge for me because last year I was 165 and it wasn’t so easy in the American Hockey League with the big guys. I think it’s going to help me a lot, physically, but it’s in my head. My confidence is going to be way better.”

Burrows is no stranger to that narrative. The 36-year-old had his own trying path to the NHL, making extended stops in the ECHL and AHL before finally landing and establishing himself as a reliable goal-scorer in Vancouver.

The Senators might not be leaning on Burrows to put up one of those 35-goal efforts this season, but as 21-year-old Perron heads into 2017-18 looking confident and ready to put up numbers, it appears Burrows is still finding ways to contribute to Ottawa’s offensive success.

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