Burns returns to Minnesota with Sharks, all grown up

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2013 - 8:46 AM

The beloved former Wild player, who now has two kids, finds he’s one of the older guys.

The first sign that something was awry came when Brent Burns turned the corner of his San Jose community and spotted something strange hanging from his fence.

As he drove closer to his house, he got a better look. It was a 40-foot banner that read, “Sick! First NHL Hat Trick!”

“The paint was still wet,” Burns said, laughing.

He turned into his driveway and found that just like the Shark Tank a few hours earlier, it was full of hats.

“It was pretty cool,” Burns said of the welcome-home reception he received from neighborhood kids after potting three goals and an assist nine days ago in a 6-3 win over St. Louis. Burns was flooded with so many texts and tweets that night, he didn’t get a wink of sleep because he was so “wired.”

It was a special afternoon for Burns, the former Wild forward-turned-defenseman who since has been turned back into a forward with the Sharks, who visit Minnesota on Sunday.

The Sharks play so many late games that Burns’ children — 3 ½ — year-old Peyton and 2 ½ — year-old Jagger — rarely get to go. But on this day, their mom, Susan, brought the kiddos to the game.

Jagger wore his Sharks jersey with the nameplate “Daddy” and No. 88 on the back.

“He’s a total nightmare,” Burns said, laughing. “He won’t take it off. I’ve given him a Team Canada jersey, Wild jersey, and All-Star jersey. He’s obsessed with the Sharks jersey.”

The fact that Burns, 28, has two kids running around is evidence that the happy-go-lucky former Wild fan favorite has grown up. Drafted 20th overall by the Wild in 2003, Burns is alarmingly one of the older guys now. If you know Burns, that’s cool and scary at the same time.

“I’ve grown up a lot,” Burns said. “It’s been 10 years. Over 10 years in anyone’s lifespan, they’re going to change a lot. I think you’re forced to [when you have children]. Now it’s not about you anymore; it’s about them.”

Don’t get “Burnzie” wrong. He is still a full-fledged man-child, and proud of it — a kid at heart trapped in a 6-5, 230-pound, tatted-up, often-very-bearded frame. He’s still a self-described goofball. He still owns all the snakes. He loves to surf and golf and bike and laugh, all part of the charm that attracts so many to him.

“I still love what I do and I have a passion for life,” Burns said. “You still change a little bit. As much as I would love to play video games all day, it’s just different. But I’ve never been a guy who wants to mope around and be serious. I wish I was more like that, but I just can’t be. It’s just not me. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be who you are.

“I’ve always respected the way a guy like Mikko [Koivu] or, on our team, Joe Pavelski are the ultimate professionals. They’re always doing the right thing. They never screw a drill up. I do. I try not to, but I screw drills up. That’s just who I am, I think. You’ve just got to accept it.”

This is Burns’ third season with San Jose after the June 2011 trade that sent him and a second-round pick to the Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick that became Zack Phillips. In parts of two seasons, Burns was inconsistent as a defenseman.

At the same time last season, the Sharks were trying to transition from being too slow up front to quicker with more of an attack mentality. During the final six games of Burns’ rookie year with Minnesota, Jacques Lemaire moved him to the back end.

During the 2004-05 lockout, then-Houston Aeros coach Todd McLellan helped transition Burns into a full-time defenseman. McLellan is in his sixth year coaching San Jose and coincidentally decided in concert with General Manager Doug Wilson that Burns could move back to forward.

After all, Burns is an imposing figure who is hard for defensemen to contain. He’s got a great shot and intimidating skill.

“He’s been dynamic,” Wilson said. “He’s the type of player you knew was going to have a big impact on our team, but we had a need last year in the forward position because we wanted to reset how we played. “Burnzie, with his history, really fit perfect with Jumbo [Joe Thornton] and how we wanted to play.”

Playing on a line with Thornton and rookie sensation Tomas Hertl, Burns has eight goals and 15 points in 16 games this season. He missed 13 games with the after-effects of being high-sticked by Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner on Oct. 12.

Burns still believes “I can be a top D-man in this league, but I love playing both. I’m having fun with it. I just love to play.”

Wilson won’t commit that Burns’ transition to stud power forward is a permanent move. Remember, Dustin Byfuglien went from defenseman to Cup-winning impact forward with Chicago back to defenseman with Atlanta and Winnipeg.

“But he’s willing to do anything to help the team, which tells you a lot about Burnzie,” Wilson said. “Who knows where he’ll be in future years, but right now he fits perfectly with what we needed up front.

“Burnzie’s just a very real, unique person. He’s very curious about life, very smart and a joy to be around. He looks at the world a little differently than others, and we kind of like that.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close