With all that has happened, it is easy to forget how outrageous it is that Alex Burrows made it this far and how hard he had to work for his opportunity. Until you watch him play.

His desperation is evident every game, every shift, almost every stride and puck battle. Burrows was never supposed to be here in the Stanley Cup final. And not because he bit Patrice Bergeron's finger, which was stupid-crazy – I mean, have you any idea how a sweaty hockey glove breeds bacteria? – but because, undrafted and unwanted, he was ready to quit hockey six years ago.

The winger from Pincourt, Que., had to try out to make the East Coast League when he was 20. Rodney and Carole supported their son, as good parents do, and didn't tell him there was probably no future in hockey for him.

"I had mixed feelings," his dad explained a few years later. "I knew hockey was his passion, but we never had ambitions for him to play in the NHL. He was just having fun. So be it."

Nobody saw this. Nobody saw a National Hockey League career, and a $2-million salary (which makes him grossly underpaid) and a first-line spot beside two of the best players in the world. Nobody saw Alex Burrows helping drive the Vancouver Canucks towards the Stanley Cup. Nobody sees him winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, either.

That could happen. With Burrows, nothing is impossible.

"At first, I was thinking: What is this guy doing here?" teammate Kevin Bieksa said Saturday, recalling his first sight of Burrows in the American League, not the NHL. "But one thing with Burr is he works extremely hard, maybe more than anybody else I've ever played with. He's very determined to get better and he has.