Brent Burns is back – and that is a big deal for the San Jose Sharks.
The former offensive defenseman has transformed into a power forward. He picked up where he left off last season, producing four goals and four assists in eight games while skating with Joe Thornton and Tomas Hertl.
The Sharks were 7-0-1 in those games. They have gone 6-3-4 in the games he has missed with facial injuries.
“You don't ever want to miss games,” Burns told the San Jose Mercury News. “It's always the goal at the start of the year. It's not about points. It's about playing every game, and winning.”
General manager Doug Wilson is eager to get him back to work.
“He's a big, strong guy. He can help us, but we're not doing anybody any favors if he's in and out," Wilson told the Mercury News. “I think he's really close, but you're better off asking him. We're a better team when he's in the lineup, but we're not going to do anything stupid that prevents him from being here long term. He's too important.”
Burns’ return will put more pressure on winger Martin Havlat to perform. He has made a sluggish return from off-season pelvic surgery, producing just two points in eight games.
“We've talked a lot about being patient with him, and letting him play his way into shape, and his timing, and all that stuff,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “We've done that. Now, it's about results.”
Lately Havlat has been relegated to the fourth line or, worse, the press box as a healthy scratch. That stirred speculation that the Ottawa Senators may want him back.