There were times in Minnesota that “defenseman” Brent Burns played wing, but it was always as a fourth-liner. In San Jose, the popular former Wild wildman has played forward the past six games, but as a top-liner.
In Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Wild, Burns played on the right side of former Wild Martin Havlat and future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton.
“I love it. I mean, Jumbo Joe will probably go down as one of the top players to ever play the game,” Burns said before a five-shot effort against his old team. “I just put that stick down, and Jumbo will find it.”
In the 2004 world juniors, Burns played on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Jeff Carter called the “Goof Troop.”
“I was a forward as a kid growing up, but I’ve played D a long time, so I’m pretty comfortable back there,” Burns said. “It takes awhile getting used to a different way of skating and breathing. It’s a totally different game.”
Burns loves the Northern California lifestyle. He’s learned how to surf in Santa Cruz and does that often, and he’s an avid bicyclist, “You’re in the mecca for biking. There’s a 9½-mile climb six minutes from my house.”
‘We settled it’
Torrey Mitchell, who played five years for the Sharks, played his first game against San Jose since signing a three-year deal with Minnesota last summer.
In the second period, took on former teammate Tommy Wingels in his third career fight.
“We don’t like each other, and we settled it,” Wingels said, straight-faced. “Just kidding.”
Mitchell said it was “weird” playing the Sharks and the fight occurred because he hacked the Sharks’ Scott Gomez after a faceoff.
“Good guy. No hard feelings,” Mitchell said of Wingels.
‘All over again’
James Sheppard, the 2006 first-round pick who scored 11 goals and 49 points in 224 games for the Wild before being traded to San Jose for a 2013 third-round pick, played his first game against Minnesota.
Sheppard missed two full seasons after breaking his kneecap in an ATV accident before the 2010-11 season. The injury required three surgeries the past two years. He has three assists in 22 games and is searching for his first goal since Dec. 11, 2009.