Burmistrov looking for fresh start, offensive opportunity with Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice was frank when discussing the Jets’ reasons for waiving center Alex Burmistrov on Jan. 2.
“Alex has a real strong view of what he’s good at,” Maurice told reporters. “That’s the most important thing: that a coach and player agree on what they’re good at and then the coach will put them in the position to succeed. Alex and I never would really agree on that.”
Burmistrov was equally frank when discussing the role he thought he would have with Winnipeg when he returned last season after two seasons playing for Kazan Ak-Bars in the Kontinental Hockey League.
“That’s why I came back,” he said Friday. “It wasn’t the role that they told me.”
Ice time and role are never guaranteed in professional leagues, and Burmistrov certainly did not earn any guarantees from coach Dave Tippett upon his arrival at 2 a.m. Arizona time. What he will get is opportunity.
“I like to look at it as a clean slate coming in,” Tippett said. “If you dissect things from his old team you get an idea but you’ve got to come in and put him in a role here. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Burmistrov is looking forward to a change of scenery on a couple fronts. He had just two points in 23 games this season, averaging 11:02 of ice time per game before the Jets waived him. He spent the last 11 days in Vancouver with his girlfriend seeing the sights while he waited for his work visa and passport issues to be resolved.
“We walked around the city a lot so if you have any questions I have the answers,” he quipped. “I know the city really well.”
Burmistrov never really got any answers as to why the process took so long.
“I guess they’re just off; the consulate doesn’t work on weekends and Friday and Thursday — and probably Monday and Tuesday,” he joked. “At some point it was like, ‘enough is enough.'”
The Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg) selected Burmistrov with the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft. They saw potential in his skill and Burmistrov had a good rookie campaign with 13 goals and 28 points in 2011-12. With the 2012-13 lockout still in effect, Burmistrov started the season in the AHL before being recalled to Winnipeg. At the end of that season, as a restricted free agent, he signed a two-year deal with Ak Bars Kazan.
His departure from the NHL was also sparked by unhappiness with his role under then-coach Claude Noël and bitterness over being assigned to the AHL, rather than being allowed to pursue a better deal in Russia during the lockout. Upon his return to Winnipeg, he had seven goals and 21 points last year, but saw his role diminish even more this season.
“Alex and I have had a number of conversations about what he was hoping to have here,” Maurice said. “I just had other players ahead of him and the role he was looking for wasn’t here. Maybe he gets that opportunity he’s been looking for to play with the top-end guys and get some power-play minutes, things like that.”
When asked what he can bring to the Coyotes, Burmistrov acknowledged that he would have to wait and see.
“I think I’m a reader of the ice,” he said. “I’m more of a playmaker than a goal scorer but again, you’ve got to score goals too in this league if you want to play in this league. I feel like I’m going to have lots of opportunities on this team and I’ve just got to produce.”
Tippett hasn’t decided whether he’ll play Saturday against Anaheim. Burmistrov hasn’t played since Dec. 6, sitting as a healthy scratch 10 times before he was waived.
“We’ll see where he’s at (Saturday), see where we’re at after the [Friday’s] game,” Tippett said. “I envision him playing, for sure, this week. Whether or not it’s (Saturday), we’ll see.”
Burmistrov is tired of waiting, but he knows it is just a short matter of time before his chance comes.
“I’m just really excited to be here right now and the past is the past,” he said. “I’m just going to forget about it.”