24
Apr
09

Amazing Adam Burish Story

Adam Burish at Wisconsin

I came across this story on The Third Man In and figured I would share it with you. It’s a pretty awesome story, reported by the Chicago Tribune, about Adam Burish surviving a pretty severe car accident and making it to the show. BTW, if anyone out there can introduce me to Adam, I’d appreciate it. Nothing better than an American born, blue collar workhorse playing in the show.

The Chicago Tribune and Melissa Isaacson have the entire story.

Adam Burish counts his blessings

He has the remnants of a shiner under his right eye, which is to the hockey player what mashed toes are to football linemen. No big deal. And even if it was painful, Adam Burish wouldn’t feel it.

He keeps a picture of the car to remind him. And he talks to his family about how, if not for the worst thing that ever happened to him, he wouldn’t be in the NHL. Surely, he would not be the player he is.

The car was totaled, the backseat –where he had been laying — gone. No backseat.

“I think about it all the time,” said the Blackhawks’ right wing. “When I’m driving, and I have to swerve around something like those grates on the side of the road that go ding, ding, ding to make you slow down, my heart kind of stops and then I start to think about it again, and how lucky I am.

“I should’ve been killed. I should be dead. No doubt about it. I don’t know how I didn’t die. We were driving a BMW 3-Series and the window, I couldn’t have crawled out of it if I tried, it was that small. How I got out of there, I have no idea.”

All Burish remembers is waking up in a cornfield, spitting up blood, unable to breathe,  his leg “going off to the side,” pain in his neck, blood everywhere.

He was 17, sleeping, unbelted in the backseat with his sister Nikki, 16, driving and his mother Helen dozing in the passenger’s seat. The three were traveling from Madison, Wis., to a hockey tournament in Minneapolis when, somewhere near Eau Claire, Nikki lost control and the car careened into a 10-foot ditch, rolling four times and throwing Burrish some 40 feet from the car.

“My mom had her seat reclined as far back as it would go, luckily,” said Burish. “Her side of the car was smashed like a straight line on top of her. If she hadn’t been reclining, she would have been gone. And my sister’s compartment was the only part of the car that was like a ball around her. It was unbelievable. They both kind of slithered out of the car and onto a stretcher [unharmed].”

For 10 days, Burish lay in bed awaiting surgery on a mangled knee that was too prone to infection to operate. The left knee was shattered, the cartilage and ligaments destroyed, his ribs broken, lungs damaged, elbow injured, his neck with muscle damage. 

“I asked the doctor, ‘Will Adam be playing hockey again?’ ” recalled his father Mark, an attorney,  “and not so kindly, he said, ‘Let’s worry about him walking again,’ ”

He did walk again, enduring more pain than he could have imagined in his young life.

“There were times when I was like, ‘Just kill me,’ ” Burish said. “It was so painful. That was as bad as it gets. I cant imagine every going through anything worse than that.”

And then, six weeks later, he took his knee brace off to go for a boat ride with a friend, slipped getting off the boat, fell on the bad leg and literally tore off his kneecap.

“He had to start rehab all over again and it took extra long,” said Mark Burish. “That was the lowest point.”

And so he stands there after practice at the United Center, the day after the Hawks’ Game 2 victory over Calgary, and you wonder how lucky he feels. A year after the accident, he was playing junior hockey in Green Bay, got a scholarship to Wisconsin, where he captained the hockey team to an NCAA title and graduated with a major in economics, and was the ninth-round draft pick (282nd overall) of the Hawks in 2002.

“When people go through traumatic events, very seldom do they come out the same,” said his father. “Either the trauma catapults you to an even higher level or it defeats you. Afterward, people were saying to him, “You’re lucky to be alive. You’re so fortunate.’

“He said, ‘Dad, I’m not lucky,’ but he took the event and he made himself better because of it. I saw a humility and determination after that I hadn’t seen before. He was a cocky high school kid who was pretty successful before that and now his whole life was flashing before him and he understood there was more to life than just being a successful athlete in high school.”

When he took his physical with the Hawks, the team doctor took one look at Burish’s knee and said, ‘We drafted you with a knee like that?’ Burish told him not to worry, that he would be fine.

Under his name in the playoff media guide is a photo of Burish fighting. He ranked third in the NHL with a team-high 214 penalty minutes last season, had 93 this year along with a career-high six goals and nine points in 66 games. He’s more than fine.

 “I don’t think that I’d be in the NHL if that wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “There’s a chance I wouldn’t have played at Wisconsin if that hadn’t happened to me. I never really took training and working hard and being disciplined real seriously in high school,” he said. “Growing up, I just kind of played hockey and had fun with it and I was pretty good at it. But after that happened to me, it kind of changed who I was. I changed my work habits and my attitude about really being determined about doing something.

“Since then, I’ve always been one of the best conditioned guys, I’ve been one of the hardest training guys. It’s something I take seriously and that’s part of the reason I’m in the NHL, because of my work ethic. I’m not scoring 50 goals a year but I’m doing little things a lot of guys don’t want to do and that’s what has allowed me to be here.”

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