The punch that led Kevin Bieksa to Canucks

And to think, it was a punch in a Winnipeg parking lot that helped get playoff hero Kevin Bieksa his first pro contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

What, you say?

Enter former Canucks GM Brian Burke, who on Tuesday recounted to ESPN.com the story of Bieksa and the Canucks, which began in Winnipeg near the end of the 2003-04 season.

"He played his four years at Bowling Green. They were eliminated from the playoffs, and we brought him to Manitoba [AHL] on a PTO [professional tryout]," Burke said. "One night after a game in Winnipeg, in which I don't think he played, they went to a local establishment. Fedor Fedorov was sitting at a table and Bieksa walked by the table, bumped him by accident and spilled Fedorov's beer. Bieksa apologized and offered to buy another beer."

According to Burke, Fedorov was in no mood for the apology from the unknown rookie and challenged him to a fight outside. Bieksa again tried to defuse the situation, according to Burke, but Fedorov wanted to fight.

"So, they go outside. Fedor was a big guy, he was a lot bigger than his brother Sergei," said Burke. "Then Fedor comes in and Bieksa drills him with one punch. Knocks him stone cold and cut wide-open and leaves him lying on the pavement."

Burke said Bieksa figured he was done with the Canucks organization and would be sent home the next day.

"Send him home? I said, 'We're going to sign him tomorrow,'" said Burke, whose affinity for truculence is well-established.

Bieksa played 80 games with the Moose the following season before graduating to the Canucks in 2005-06.