CALAGRY, AB — Timing. When it’s right, it’s right.
And boy was it right for defenceman Tyler Burton earlier this year.
Alongside several Roughnecks, Burton helped the Victoria Shamrocks win the Mann Cup, but it came at a cost – he did some damage to his MCL.
Not a severe injury, he put in the work to be ready to go for training camp with the Vancouver Stealth, where he spent the entire 2015 season.
“It wasn’t a bad injury,” Burton said. “During the Mann cup I hurt my MCL a little bit. I kept training and didn’t let it totally heal. When I was in the Vancouver training camp I had to wear a brace and I had it taped up. It didn’t hinder my performance at all, it just was there.”
Unfortunately for Burton, the evidence of an injury – or the perception of a more serious injury – the Stealth decided to move on and utilize Mitch McMichael as their face-off man.
“I guess they took it as I was badly injured or something like that,” said Burton, confused as to why it led to him being let go. “That was one of the reasons I was told that they wanted to let me go. I knew it wasn’t a serious injury, but it was something I should have let heal better.”
It was at this point that Burton decided to take a hiatus from lacrosse to make sure that he was 100 percent healthy.
With no NLL contract, Burton was on the outside looking in. Putting in many hours to rehab his knee and to get in game shape, he got to the point where he wondered if his time in the league had come to an end.
“After Vancouver let me go, I took the time off I needed to let it heal properly,” Burton said. “I started to train harder. It was a lot of time in and out of the gym and physio. I can attest to not giving up, but at some point you think to yourself, ‘Maybe I should give it up?’”
It’s a good thing he didn’t throw in the towel.
Living, working, and training in Victoria, BC, Burton was in close proximity to summer ball teammates and Roughnecks players Greg and Jon Harnett.
That relationship would result in huge dividends for the hard-nosed defender.
“I’m really good buddies with Jon and Greg,” said Burton of his Shamrocks teammates. “I live quite close to them so they saw me training all the time and we hung out quite a bit.
“I think Jonny got into coaches ear a little bit saying you should get on this and sign him. I heard a lot of GM’s didn’t want to sign me because they heard I was injured.”
At that time, however, the Roughnecks weren’t in the market for defenceman who can excel in the face-off circle, they already had Bob Snider for that role.
However, when the Roughnecks placed Snider on the Injured Reserve on February 8 with a lower body injury, they seemingly had a big need all of a sudden.
Just over a week later, on February 19, Burton signed on the dotted line.
“It’s amazing and I can’t thank coach Malawsky and Mike Board for taking me in and allowing me to have the opportunity,” said a very thankful Burton. “I’ve always thought of myself as an opportunistic guy. Whenever I have an opportunity, I try to make the most of it, get the best out of it.”
Nine days after signing, Burton made his Roughnecks debut when the Riggers hosted the Saskatchewan Rush at the Rough House.
The defenceman endeared himself to the fans early on with some good defence and a great transition goal.
He endeared himself to his teammates as well.
Having played with the Harnett’s, Dan MacRae and Karsen Leung in Victoria, that helped his transition into the locker room.
“When you come into the team and you know pretty much everyone, you played with or against everyone, and they know the type of guy you are, you fit in easier,” said Burton. “I’ve already known a lot of the guys, so it was an easy fit. I grew up with the Carnegie brothers in London, ON, so I knew them already. It was an easy fit.”
The captain is happy to have him on board.
“Obviously he’s from London, same as me. I’ve known Tyler for a long time,” Roughnecks defenceman Mike Carnegie said. “I’m very excited that he’s got the opportunity with us. I knew he wold get the chance to play in the league again and I’m happy he’s done it with Calgary.”
For Burton, it has been a perfect storm of events that has led him to the Roughnecks and to the second round of the NLL Playoffs.
Without injuring his MCL, without getting cut, without those hardships, Tyler Burton might have been at home in Vancouver watching the playoff games last weekend. Instead, he’s battled back and worked hard to create a role for himself in Calgary.
“It was really a blessing in disguise,” admitted Burton. “I’m truly happy and thankful to be where I am today with the Roughnecks.”