Home » More & Less Hockey » Brent Burns: Straight Up

Brent Burns: Straight Up

(Originally published on Kuklas Korner)

Brent Burns is exactly the sort of player the Sharks needed to get: a big fancy D man.  Now they have him, for one year. Will he stay?  It’s a question that will be overplayed like Paula Abdul’s pop hit.  We probably won’t get an answer for some time.

Google Brent Burns and you find a slew of articles saying he is wonderful and Doug Wilson is a shining champion for acquiring him. There’s not much noise about losing him, except from Minny.  Wilson doesn’t want us worrying about that either:

“We will get to business when the time is right,” Wilson added later, “but we acquired this player with the plan for him being a long-term member of the Sharks.” -Working the Corners

Why in the world wouldn’t Brent Burns want to stay with us in our beautiful mild climate, with our nice shiny Shark Tank, on our fine strapping team that has been doing awfully well lately, cheered by a large noisy audience, for a big fat wad of money that Doug Wilson is bound to offer him?  Why in the world wouldn’t he stay with us?

Without much time to think of an answer to that, Burns said he thinks we’re great:

“They love hockey. I know when I’ve played there, you’d never think they have the fan support that they do being in California, but it’s honestly one of the best places to play in the league. It’s going to be exciting.” -Working the Corners

See what he did there?  It’s exciting, it’s the best, but you would never expect it.  Why not?  We’re a really big state, with lots and lots of people.  I guess we just don’t have the hockey fan density.

Burns hasn’t played with the Sharks yet, so hearing that he thinks we’re great, unexpectedly or not, doesn’t give me much comfort.  I’d rather hear that as an explanation for why he signed a contract extension, like yesterday.

San Jose has a (strikethru)fine thriving(/strike) … err… less crippled economy than other parts of California.  It has a pleasant downtown, excellent freeway access, and sunshine, but not so much that you think you’re going to die for two or three months a year.  Obviously, no slipping on ice, hitting your head, and freezing to death on your way to the mailbox in the winter.  This is what you call a mild climate.

Some people don’t enjoy a mild climate.  They complain about things like seasons not changing with the splashy drama of other places.  I’ll take fresh avocados over some crinkly dry leaves, followed by freezing to death, any day.  What is wrong with these people?  No, we don’t have any jobs to offer and housing is too expensive, but hey, you don’t need a house when you’re not freezing to death.  Didn’t they read The Grapes of Wrath?  This is the place to be, man!

Brent Burns says he’s not worried about the weather:

“My wife is from Texas, so she’s no stranger to the heat,” Burns said. “It will be good to get her out of the snow.” -SJ Sharks

What if San Jose isn’t enough like Texas?  Maybe she won’t notice, like if her thermostat got frozen all out of whack in Minnesota.  We can hope.

What about the kids?  The Burns’ have two small children.  They are very young, they will adapt.  No one asks kids what they want anyway.  They can decide where to live when they’re paying the rent.

What about the snakes?  California has all kinds of laws about not letting them get out because when they escape they don’t die, they go raid chicken coops and eat toy dogs and things like that.  Snakes love California.

The most openly discussed actual problem with playing in San Jose is travel.  A lot of players cite this as reason to prefer the Eastern Conference. Hockey players are supposed to be tough.  What kind of hothouse flower wilts if he spends too much time in a comfy jet?  No one we need on our team, I say.

What about the long term?  We don’t yet know if Burns will gel with the Sharks.  They seem like a congenial enough group, a little short on Libras but no one is perfect.  There’s a more international flavor to the team since the acquisition of M.H. Czechoslovakia.  Burns is familiar with the coaching staff from way back.  Could that be part of why Shaw will be handling defense instead of Woodcroft?

Is Burns the real deal for the long term?  What could possibly go wrong?  No one is a sure bet, but you can examine someone’s history to see what pitfalls might lurking. I saw the word “inconsistent” somewhere, but that’s cool.  The Sharks are familiar with that issue.

Has he played most of the games for most of the seasons he’s been in the NHL?  2005-06: 72 games, 2006-07: 77 games, 2007-08: 82 games, 2008-09: 59 games.. wait… 2009-10: 47 games.  Uh oh.  2010-11:  80 games.  Well that’s a good sign.  Those previous seasons?  What was that I heard about injury, what was it again?  Head injury did I hear?  Something about shoulder surgery in there too but that doesn’t set off my alarms.  Really, who doesn’t have shoulder problems?  Very poor design I say.

Everyone has bad patches.  I wish his bad patch was a bit further back, but he’s young so that seems like a lot to ask.  He’s tall, that helps in a fundamental way with protecting the head.  I wish he didn’t have two rough seasons in a row.  That smacks of coming back too soon.

I’ll try to be positive.  47 is a nice number.  80 last season is an even nicer one.

If he doesn’t sound like a California Dude I don’t know who does.  He’s not from California, you say?  That’s another thing we do lots of here in The Golden State: imports.

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