Thank you Francesco Aquilini.
Alex Burrows repeated one thing during his scrum in the Canucks dressing room Wednesday morning and that was it: thank you Francesco Aquilini.
Sunday morning Burrows awoke in Toronto and headed down to the team breakfast. That’s when his phone rang. It was Nancy, his wife, who was going into labour. The couple’s third child wasn’t due until November 20th, but it was go time.
Burrows immediately hopped into a cab and booked it for the airport. He arrived at 11:30 a.m., yet his flight wasn’t until 2:30 p.m. After speaking to the airline, who told him there was a 12 p.m. flight but that it was overbooked, Burrows expected to spend the next few hours pacing the airport.
Then he felt a tap on his shoulder.
It was Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, who had been in town to watch Vancouver play Toronto a night earlier.
Burrows explained the situation and next thing he knew he was boarding the 12 p.m. flight to Vancouver.
“You’re getting on this flight,” Aquilini told Burrows, who understandably felt bad he was about to make the team owner wait at the airport for another three hours. “He didn’t give me a choice and so I took him up on switching flights. I guess he just watched football for a while.”
Thanks to the flight change, Burrows arrived in Vancouver at 3:30 p.m., joining his wife at the hospital a mad cab ride later.
Nancy was well into labour when her husband arrived, but he made it and was there to witness the birth of Jacob, who was born at 4:20 p.m. He weighed in at 7.1 pounds and was 19 inches long; both Jacob and Nancy are doing well.
Burrows will be forever grateful he ran into Aquilini at the airport.
“It’s funny how things work,” said Burrows, who admitted he got emotional during the birth. “For whatever reason I didn’t cry when my girls were born and I didn’t expect to this time, I think I was just so happy I was there to see it.”
Burrows has made a habit of close calls when it comes to seeing his children being born.
His eldest daughter was born on April 27th, 2011, a day after Burrows scored the biggest goal of his career when he slayed the dragon to take down the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal.
A day after his daughter was born, the Canucks opened the Western Conference Semi-final against the Nashville Predators.
“Right in the middle,” laughed Burrows. “I’m happy I’m lucky!”
Hearing Burrows talk about the birth and his emotions through it all made for a great morning skate today in Winnipeg.
This hasn’t been the greatest road trip, but there’s one game left to end on a high-note. Expect Burrows, who loves playing in Winnipeg, to be flying.
Let’s hope he helps keep the Jets grounded.