VANCOUVER – Brent Burns is still getting used to his new life with the San Jose Sharks following a blockbuster off-season trade, but he looked right at home on Sunday night.
The defenceman assisted on the winning goal as the Sharks edged the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in NHL pre-season action.
“It’ll take a big adjustment,” Burns said. “Getting used to everything, it’s different, but obviously it’s a great bunch of guys here and an awesome organization. So it’ll be fine. It’ll just take a bit of time.”
After losing to the Canucks in the Western Conference final last spring, Sharks management decided to shake up the roster. In the largest deal, San Jose acquired Burns, who is gifted offensively and strong defensively, from Minnesota in exchange for former 30-goal scorer Devin Setoguchi, 2010 first-round pick Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick in this year’s draft. The Sharks also received a 2012 second-round pick.
“When you live in a place for a long time, it becomes your home, and when you move, it’s different,” Burns said.
While trades are a way of life in the NHL, the move from the Wild, an organization for whom he had toiled eight seasons–six full NHL campaigns, part of another, and a lockout-interrupted season in the minors–was difficult. He and his wife have two children under the age of two.
But Sharks coach Todd McLellan is not complaining. Burns, a 26-year-old Barrie, Ont., native now has two assists in two games. He was plus-one Sunday and is now plus-two in the pre-season. Although the win over the Canucks was a scattered, high-scoring affair, he was not on the ice for any of SanJose’s goals against.
He drew the second assist as Andrew Desjardins gave the Sharks an insurmountable 4-2 lead midway through the third period after holding period leads of 2-1 and 3-2.
“Burnsy’s done a very good job of acclimatizing himself to our world,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan.“He’s fit very well in the locker-room, he’s fit well in the community, and I think his family’s comfortable there. Now comes the hockey part of it.
“We’ll have to be somewhat patient with him. Expectations for him in our locker-room, but even more so outside the locker-room in our community, are quite high. I believe that he’s going to be a tremendous player for us.”
Tommy Wingels led the Sharks with two goals. Brad Winchester, who is on a tryout, also scored for San Jose.
Alexander Sulzer, Cody Hodgson and Nolan Baumgartner replied for the Canucks.
Following the game, the Canucks released veteran winger Owen Nolan, who had been on a professional tryout. Nolan played Sunday but not record any points. He finished with a goal and an assist in three games.
The Sharks outshot the Canucks 34-29. San Jose was blanked on three power-play opportunities while Vancouver converted one of nine.
The Sharks’ lineup comprised mainly veterans while the Canucks went mostly with minor-leaguers and prospects for the second straight night.
McLellan said the Sharks conducted a comprehensive review following their six-game loss to Vancouver’s team in the Western Conference final and realized it had to get better on the blue-line.
“In one year, we’ve added three veteran players that we think can contribute in three different areas–Colin White, Jim Vandermeer and, obviously, Brent Burns–and they all bring something different to the table in different situations on different nights,” he said. “They all have a tremendous amount of experience in the National League and we just feel our back end is bigger, stronger, and more equipped to play deeper into the playoffs.”
Veteran San Jose rearguard Douglas Murray said Burns will be a big addition when the games start to count.
“Defensively, he’s been great for the guys,” Murray said. “He’s not only a great guy but a great, fun personality, to be around. I don’t think he’ll have any problems fitting in with any any group anywhere. He’s quite a character, and on the ice he does his thing. He’s a very skilled player, big body. I think he’ll fit in on any team.”
Burns said his performance was adequate. He took two penalties, but the Canucks couldn’t capitalize when he was in the box.
Burns is looking forward to contributing his speed, big body and defensive skills as the Sharks continue their quest to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in their history.
“I think I’ve done that the last couple of years and can do the same thing,” Burns said.
Notes: Vancouver lost winger Steve Pinozzotto, a candidate for fourth-line duty, to a shoulder injury following a collision with Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray in the first period. Canucks’coach Alain Vigneault said Pinozzotto’s shoulder is dislocated. Vancouver defenceman Aaron Rome suffered a broken finger and did not return after the second-period intermission. Rome, who assisted on Hodgson’s goal, is out indefinitely, said Vigneault. … Earlier Sunday, the Canucks released journeyman forward Steve Begin, 33, who was also in camp on a professional tryout. Begin recorded no points and four penalty minutes in one preseason game. … The Canucks assigned six other players, including defenceman Yann Sauve, who played five games with Vancouver last season, to their new AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.