Burns playing in worlds with Wild future up in air

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2011 - 8:38 PM
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Wild defenseman Brent Burns (right)

Photo: Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

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Brent Burns has a stressful offseason ahead of him, but it will start with some fun in two weeks in Slovakia when he will be joined by Wild teammate Cal Clutterbuck in the world championships for Canada.

Burns will be coached by one of his biggest supporters, Ken Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock, who is interested in the Wild vacancy, who continually threw Burns over the boards en route to his being named best defenseman of the 2008 tournament.

"It's another chance for me to learn more and play at a great level," Burns said.

But Burns also knows his future in Minnesota is up in the air. Like Mikko Koivu last July, the Wild must decide this summer if it is prepared to make a long-term commitment to Burns.

The Wild signed Koivu to a seven-year, $47.25 million extension that begins next season. Burns, a big thoroughbred of a defenseman, can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, meaning the Wild plans to either extend his contract or perhaps trade him so it doesn't risk losing him for nothing in a year (see Marian Gaborik).

"It's nothing for me to dwell on," Burns said. "I have a year left. That'll get taken care of either way."

Burns had a terrific first half, being selected to his first All-Star Game. The second half didn't go as well.

"I think things can go better," Burns said. "There's a lot for me to learn. I'm still developing in the position. I think I made great strides this year working with Rick [Wilson, Wild assistant coach]. I learned a lot from him.

"I don't think I had a bad year by any stretch of the imagination. But it's hard to feel good about anything right now."

Genoway signs

Chay Genoway will be taking off his Fighting Sioux sweater. The North Dakota standout defenseman signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Wild on Tuesday. If he plays in the NHL, the salary-cap hit is $1.2 million.

"Usually when I'm coming down to the Cities area, I'm going to play against someone, usually it's the enemy down there, but I have so much respect for how much the area and Minnesota love the game of hockey," said Genoway, 24, who will graduate in May with a degree in business management. "I'm very excited."

The 5-9 Genoway, a first team All-America and first team All-WCHA selection this year, is the first player ever to be named a four-time All-WCHA selection. He scored 127 points in his career, ranking fourth among defensemen all-time at UND.

He hopes to work with Wilson, a Wild assistant with a long history at UND, next year and Houston Aeros assistant coach Darryl Sydor, a former longtime NHL defenseman.

"Just to have a defenseman like that with years of knowledge, it'll be amazing to pick his brain," said Genoway, who missed Sidney Crosby by a year at Shattuck-St. Mary's but played there with Jonathan Toews and Kyle Okposo.

Etc.

• Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher might have to accelerate the start to his coaching search. Dallas became the fifth coaching vacancy Tuesday when Marc Crawford was fired. That means Minnesota, Dallas, New Jersey, Ottawa and Florida could be bumping into the same candidates.

• Now that the New Jersey Devils won Tuesday night's draft lottery, moving up from eighth to fourth, the Wild will pick 10th in the first round of the June 24-25 draft at Xcel Energy Center. Edmonton will pick No. 1 for the second year in a row.

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