Dave Burrows played his minor hockey within a subway ride of Maple Leaf Gardens. It was there that his favourite player, Tim Horton, plied his defensive trade for the Blue and White.Young Burrows would watch and imitate all that he saw of the master.
As he ascended to the junior ranks, however, the budding rearguard veered from Toronto's path to become the property of the Chicago Blackhawks. He spent two seasons in the service of the St. Catharines Blackhawks of the OHA before turning pro with the Dallas Blackhawks and the Portland Buckeroos in 1969-70. He remained in the minors until the Pittsburgh Penguins picked him up in the Intra-League Draft of 1971. And to his pleasant surprise, when he joined the club, he was partnered on defense with his TV mentor, Tim Horton.
Burrows remained as a Penguin mainstay throughout most of the 1970s. During that time, he established himself as one of the NHL's best defensive rearguards. And although he lacked almost any scoring knack in the offensive zone, he was well equipped to cover his own end of the rink. In his prime, he could skate faster backwards than most players could move forwards, and as such, could stifle any one-on-one threat with exceptional efficiency.
In 1978, Burrows was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he continued to play his usual solid game for the two-and-a-half years that followed. But by 1980, he found his love for the game was waning. He made a return trip to the Penguins fold to round out the 1980-81 campaign, his last in pro hockey. Preferring to leave on his own terms, he decided to quit before he got a pink slip.