After seven years behind the Vancouver Canucks' bench Alain Vigneault will be behind another team's bench Thursday night at Rogers Arena.

The most successful coach in Canucks history is now running the New York Rangers John Tortorella’s old team in a bizarre switch of roles no one could have forecast.

Maybe it’s a good thing the reunion is taking place in the pre-season where points don’t matter. All of the current Canucks enjoyed their greatest success under Vigneault none more so than Alex Burrows the undrafted ECHL refugee who turned into a National Hockey League star and $4.5 million-a-year player.

“Obviously Alain has been a big part of my career” Burrows said. “He is one of the guys who really didn’t tell me any stories. He just told me how it was.”

Burrows and Vigneault had some history before they were reunited on the 2006-07 Canucks. AV was his coach with the Manitoba Moose the season before and it was Vigneault among others in Winnipeg who recommended the Canucks sign Burrows to an NHL contract and give him an opportunity.

Burrows was eventually summoned on Jan. 2 2006 and stuck with the big club. Later that spring coach Marc Crawford was fired and replaced by Vigneault. Burrows appeared in 81 games in 2006-07 and scored just three times. He was told by AV he was on the verge of being cut.

“It was Alain’s first year my second year and he basically told me at the end of the year that I wasn’t good enough and I was s--- all year pretty much” Burrows recalled. “He told me that I better start working out hard in the summer because there were no guarantees for me to come back and play on the team. It was almost a wake-up call and afterwards he was the one that really believed in me.”

Burrows responded with a 12-goal 31-point season and was on his way. The following year Vigneault played a mid-game hunch during a Feb. 10 outing in St. Louis and moved Burrows up to the first line alongside the Sedin twins. It was one of Vigneault’s most inspired decisions as Canuck coach. Burrows and the twins clicked almost immediately and became one of the NHL’s most potent lines.

“We had a lot of success with Alain and we did a lot of good things” Burrows said. “Obviously we didn’t get the ultimate prize like everybody wanted but we came close. I think Alain meant a lot to the organization with his winning record. He always treated everyone the right way. He was good for me and he was good for a lot of the players in this locker-room.”

Burrows doesn’t plan to flick any snow at his old boss during tonight’s pre-season game but won’t hesitate to engage in a little chit-chat in a Rogers Arena hallway should the two meet.

“For sure I’ll try to catch up with him and see how he’s doing” Burrows added. “But at the same time we have to forget him and his system when we play the Rangers. We’re going to try to beat him as much as he’ll try to beat us.”