Brent Burns’ trip to Mexico with his wife during the All-Star break is off.
Instead, the Wild defenseman will be in Raleigh, N.C. later this month to participate in his first All-Star Game, multiple sources have confirmed.
The announcement will be made at 11 a.m. today.
Burns ranks second among all NHL defensemen with 12 goals (second on the Wild) and 14th with 26 points (third on the Wild). He leads the NHL with 32.5 shifts per game and ranks 12th in ice time per game (24 minutes, 38 seconds).
Burns is expected to be the lone Wild representative in Raleigh during the Jan. 28-30 All-Star break. The other contenders were arguably Wild leading scorer Martin Havlat, who’s had a terrific year and been one of the Wild’s most valuable players, and captain Mikko Koivu, the Wild’s second-leading scorer.
Last week in Boston, Burns said he wasn’t thinking about the All-Star Game and his sole goal was helping the Wild end its two-year playoff drought. The Wild’s ninth in the Western Conference, two points behind eighth and three behind fourth heading into tonight’s game at the Nashville Predators.
It’s Burns’ seventh season, and for the first time in three, he’s been completely healthy. Two years ago, his season was destroyed by a season-ending concussion and shoulder injury. Last year, he missed 29 games with what turned out to be sinus issues and six with a hip injury.
“Hockey’s a big, big mental game,” Burns said last week. “If your confidence is high and you believe you can make a difference, I think you can. Being in shape really helps. The summers I had before, you’re not feeling good, maybe you’re not as happy, then your play suffers. Plus, I’m older, too.”
Now he’s starting to look like the player that broke out with 15 goals and 43 points in 2007-08 and was later named Best Defenseman in the 2008 world championships.
“Obviously, I’m still young,” Burns, 25, said last week. “I still think I’m young at heart and fun and I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m starting to think that I can make a difference helping the team every night.
“That’s bouncing back when I mess up, not being such a rollercoaster, stepping up when we need it. Mental toughness is my biggest improvement.”
General Manager Chuck Fletcher said last week regarding Burns, “It’s difficult to find players with that size coupled with that mobility. He obviously has high-end talent and a very good work ethic. He’s one of the more dynamic defensemen in the game.
“There’s always an element of surprise with Brent. You never quite know where he’s going to come from and what he’s going to do. That sort of unpredictability just adds to how dangerous he is offensively.”
Burns will be made available to us after today’s 11:30 morning skate. For his reaction to his first All-Star Game appearance, come back to the blog later this afternoon.
Thirty-six All-Stars and 12 rookies will be announced by the NHL at 11. The NHL, working in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association, replaced the traditional conference vs. conference format for the All-Star teams with a player draft that will determine the team rosters for the All-Star Game as well as the NHL SuperSkills.
The Jan. 28 All-Star Player Fantasy Draft will be televised live on VERSUS at 7 p.m. from NHL Fan Fair at the Raleigh Convention Center.
The SuperSkills competition will be Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. (VERSUS) and the All-Star Game will be Jan. 30 at 3 p.m. (VERSUS).
WILD ALL-STAR GAME PERFORMANCES