Burish Sharks' first offseason move


Burish Sharks' first offseason move

The Sharks dipped into the unrestricted free agent waters on Sunday in the person of 29-year-old forward Adam Burish, who agreed to a four-year contract with the club worth a reported 1.8 million a year on average. A veteran of six NHL seasons, Burish spent the last two in Dallas after winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Burish is expected to help fill out the Sharks' bottom two lines, but more than that, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is adding some personality and enthusiasm to a locker room that lacked exactly that last season.

If you spend any time around him, this guy just loves the game, Wilson said on a conference call with the local media, shortly after noon. Hes contagious his enthusiasm, how he plays and how he lives. Were trying to re-establish our identity of going at people and playing that way. He is a guy that just fits right in with our group and with what were trying to accomplish. Hes a heartbeat type of guy.

Burish was the first call that Wilson made after 9:00 a.m. PST, when all unrestricted free agents became eligible to negotiate with other teams. Todd McLellan was also on the call while on vacation in Hawaii. Although he fielded offers from several other clubs, Burish decided the Sharks were the best fit. He played college hockey with Joe Pavelski, is familiar with Marty Havlat from his days in Chicago, and won a championship with Antti Niemi.

Its always a team that Ive liked. I obviously have some real good friends there, Burish said.

It wasnt an easy decision. I wont say that. We spoke with other teams, but I dont care about those other teams anymore, to be honest, he said. Im really happy with where Im at. Im thrilled, and Im excited to get moving and get out there soon.

RELATED: Sharks sign Adam Burish

It didnt take long for him to text his buddy Pavelski, either, whom he works out with in the summer.

Its one of the first things he said after the deal was done, is Lets go win a Cup.' Pavelski said.

Hes not going to let anyone take the night off, and thats the biggest thing. You have to work every night and every day to get better, and he brings that attitude, which is great.

One of the more outspoken players in the league, Burish couldnt conceal his passion on a conference call shortly after the deal was announced. This is, after all, the guy that called Chris Pronger the biggest idiot in the league after the 2010 finals in which his Blackhawks defeated Prongers Flyers (Burish later apologized for the remark).

He knows hes not going to be a guy that scores 20 goals a season (he has just 25 in 297 career games), but Burish will undoubtedly be one of the more gregarious inhabitants of the Sharks dressing room.

They know the way I play. Everybody kind of knows the way I play. For me, I want to bring some excitement. I want to pull some guys along, he said.

Winning a Stanley Cup, for me, its like a sick drug. You just want more of it and more of it, and cant get enough of it. I want a chance to do it again. I hope I can bring some of that enthusiasm and excitement, and hopefully pull guys along with me, with that excitement I have.

On the ice, Burish may join what was an awful penalty-killing unit. The Sharks will be much more aggressive in that area of the game after finishing 29th last season.

In Dallas, Burish averaged nearly a minute-and-a-half per game on the PK on what was the 13th-ranked unit.

Doug talked a little bit about it, just how he wants to have a different mentality and different attitude, Burish said. Kind of like, were going to go at you and were not going to give you too much respect. Were not going to be scared going out there on the penalty kill. Were going to take away your time and space, and were going to be aggressive.

Burish is signed through the 2015-16 season.

The term was something that works very well in our range, Wilson said.

With the addition of Burish, the Sharks will not negotiate with free agent forward Daniel Winnik, who had not yet signed with anyone as of Sunday afternoon. Torrey Mitchell inked a three-year contract with Minnesota earlier in the day. Other free agents that have likely played their last games with the Sharks are defensemen Colin White and Jim Vandermeer, and forwards Dominic Moore and Brad Winchester.

RELATED: Torrey Mitchell signs with Wild
Wilson said: This isnt a negative against anybody else, but were very clear on how we want to reestablish our identity. Not just on our PK, but how we play the game. Bringing Brad Stuart in we want people that are aggressive, that go at you.

Thats pretty consistent with what we identified we wanted to do, and well continue to go forward building that type of team.

Sharks shuffle up their lines ahead of homestand

Sharks shuffle up their lines ahead of homestand

SAN JOSE – When the Sharks signed free agent forward Mikkel Boedker in the summer, head coach Pete DeBoer immediately pictured him on a line with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi, saying a couple weeks ago that it looked good when he wrote it down “on a napkin.”

DeBoer apparently went through a few more napkins on the flight home from Detroit on Sunday, a 3-0 shutout loss to the Red Wings on Saturday surely on his mind.

The Sharks resumed practice on Monday with four entirely new lines, including Boedker up with the Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Couture centered Donskoi and Joel Ward, while Tomas Hertl was in the middle of the third line with Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto. Chris Tierney skated as fourth line center with the remaining wingers.

“It’s not a panic situation or anything, I think you’re always looking for ways to get the most out of your group,” DeBoer said. “Our four-line game hasn’t been where I want it to be.”

Getting more out of Boedker is apparently part of the motivation for shuffling things up, as the newcomer has just four shots on goal through six games, with one point (a goal against Columbus on Oct. 15).

Playing with Thornton and Pavelski could help in that regard, just as it helped players such as Hertl last season.

“He’s got to shoot the puck more…and he knows that,” DeBoer said of Boedker. “I’m not concerned about him, but the nice thing about playing with those two guys is they push you to go to the areas where you have to score. Hopefully that gets him going.”

Boedker said: “It’s two of the best [players] in the league, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. Just got to listen and do the things they expect me to do, and make sure that I do them to the highest level.”

The line changes spreads out the Sharks’ speed a little more evenly among their scoring lines. They looked slow in losses to Detroit and the Rangers, especially.

“[Boedker] can bring some things to that line that Tomas maybe doesn’t,” DeBoer said. “Tomas has a great skill set, but this guy can back people off with his speed.”

Hertl will skate at center for the first time since early last January, although he saw plenty of time there in training camp when Thornton and Couture were competing in the World Cup. Last season, he had 15 points (4g, 11a) in 37 games before moving to the Thornton line full time on Jan. 9, where he took off.

The 22-year-old has three points (2g, 1a) in six games this season as a left wing.

“I think Hertl can play anywhere,” DeBoer said. “His game is at that point in his career and he’s a good enough player now that not only can he play anywhere, but I think he can make other people better around him.”

While the line changes will give the Sharks a new look on paper, Couture believes the bigger issue with the team – going back to the third period of Thursday’s 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh – is its compete level. 

“It’s compete and battle and playing the right way that we need to worry about,” he said. “We didn’t play well in Detroit, there’s no way around that. … We just didn’t compete, [and] that’s a frustrating thing, but it’s an easy thing to fix.”

The head coach echoed Couture’s estimation.

DeBoer said: “We have to realize how desperate a team we were last year every night, and the teams that we’re playing are out to hunt us based on our success last year. If we don’t have that desperation level, it’s going to be tough to win.”

The Sharks open a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Anaheim, and host the Blue Jackets and Predators later this week.

Leafs place ex-Sharks LW on waivers, claim ex-Sharks RW

Leafs place ex-Sharks LW on waivers, claim ex-Sharks RW

The Maple Leafs continued their early roster tweaking on Monday, with a pair of moves — veteran winger Milan Michalek was placed on waivers, and the club claimed forward Ben Smith from Colorado.

First up, Michalek.

The 31-year-old — acquired, along with other spare parts, in the Dion Phaneuf-to-Ottawa trade — had appeared in all five games for the Leafs this season, scoring two points while averaging 14:16 TOI per night.

So needless to say, he was a fairly regular contributor.

Today’s transaction is clearly a move to give younger players a bigger opportunity on the team. Michalek was a veteran presence on a club filled with kids, but that apparently wasn’t enough to justify his roster spot any longer.

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