“I’m a young guy. I’m a young guy.”
Like a vampire resisting garlic, that was Brent Burns’s comical response when I asked him about being an older guy who’s still playing at a high level.
And hey, maybe that’s the state of mind that allows Burns, 37, to continue playing at a high level. Burns led the NHL with 2144:02 played, almost 88 more minutes than runner-up (and much younger) Victor Hedman (2056:12).
But Time, of course, is undefeated. And the clock is ticking on Burns’s chance to win a Stanley Cup. He could’ve helped a winner in the last three seasons that the San Jose Sharks have missed the playoffs — he should still be able to help a contender next year.
Burns, of course, has a limited trade clause — there are just three teams that the Sharks can trade him to — and they’re also going to respect what he wants to do, considering his immense contributions to the franchise.
So does Brent Burns want to get traded elsewhere this off-season?
I asked him, and he also told us what Bob Boughner has done right as Sharks head coach. He also, as always, teased Mario Ferraro.
Brent Burns, on this season:
It’s tough. I think when you don’t make the playoffs, it’s obviously not good enough. I think at the start of the year everybody’s goal is to get there, that’s no secret. I don’t think you ever really go into a season not expecting it and wanting it.
So, when it doesn’t happen, it’s a disappointment. I think everybody is in that position. It’s a tough feeling when you’re doing these [exit interviews] now.
At the end of the day, it’s a disappointment. It’s not good enough.
Burns, on what Bob Boughner and the coaches have done right:
I think the communication and the preparation. They’ve been great at that.
There’s been a lot of change for those guys and a lot of crazy circumstances. It’s just been a kind of crazy couple of years. Last year, not normal. This year, more so.
Certain things were really good and then certain things we had to work on. I think they always did a great job.
I’ve always had a special relationship with Boogie. I’ve always said that he’s done a really good job of going from when he was our D-coach to a head job, the communication and the way he can handle a room.
Burns, on Boughner’s success with developing the younger players:
It’s not just him, [John MacLean, Mike Ricci, Evgeni Nabokov], Boogie, I mean they all played, so I think right there you have a different connection, a different respect. Not that if they didn’t play it changes, but when you know a guy has played a lot of games in the NHL and has done it kind of recently, kind of gone through the same issues and they’re good communicators, [it’s different].
They’re all detailed players. You see Ricci, working with them on little things that make a big difference in a game.
As the season goes on, you practice less. The games, they kind of just fly by, so that little detail work in the room and on video, the little communications, making guys feel better sometimes, giving them a little spank to get them going, I think that’s a talent and our coaches were good with that.
You saw guys make jumps. That’s a good indicator.
Burns, on when he plans to start training for next season:
I’m gonna start right away. I’m gonna go see NEEDTOBREATHE. Enjoy a nice concert right away here and kind of reset, and then start working out and go hunting. I need some meat. (laughs)
Burns, on if he thinks about chasing a Cup or if he’s committed to making it work in San Jose:
San Jose has been a special place for us, for our family.
It’s definitely tough when you lose three years, not making the playoffs. I think everybody feels that way, whether they’re young or older.
At the end of the day, that’s what we all play for. I’ve been in the league long enough to know that, when you’re doing these meetings at this time, there’s a lot of changes that happen, that need to happen.
A lot of changes are going to happen here. When you’re looking for a new general manager, there’s a lot of things on the table. So I don’t know.
I’m going to be staring at a squat rack in a little bit here and trying to get my head wrapped around that.
Burns, on playing with Mario Ferraro:
Well, if you know Mario, which I’m sure you guys have gotten to know him, I need a couple days with the earplugs in with my kids and Mario. (laughs) But no, I can’t say enough about Mario as a partner, as a human, as a teammate.
He’s an incredible guy. He’s got an incredible energy. He’s fun to play with every day on the ice. Earplugs would help, probably, but communication is key. It’s been a couple years [that] we’ve played together mostly.
He’s come a long way too. Just in his poise and he’s slowing the game down. I think our chemistry and the way our game has meshed has been really good.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.