Burns: Wild are like an 'ex-girlfriend'


Burns: Wild are like an 'ex-girlfriend'

SAN JOSE Sometimes it takes the perfect song lyrics to express what youre really feeling.

Brent Burns, who is preparing to face his former club on Thursday for the first time since getting traded to the Sharks in the offseason, thinks he found it in Ill Pray for You by Jaron and the Long Road to Love.

He likened his emotions towards the Minnesota Wild with those ofwell, well just have to let him explain.

Its like an ex-girlfriend, said Burns. You dont really want her to get the ole' white picket fence and a great job after, he said. Its like that good country song, youre praying for herto get hit by a car (laughs).

Youll have to download the rest to get the full effect of the song, which Burns admitted he recently heard on the radio.

Now, Burns was just joking around, of course. He has fond memories of playing for the Wild and keeps in touch with several former teammates and friends in Minnesota. He was drafted in the first round in 2003 by the organization, and spent the first eight years of his career there.

That doesnt mean he wants to see them near the top of the standings, though, which is where the Wild sit after extending their winning streak to five games with a 3-0 win in Calgary on Tuesday.

They have a little bit more wins than I would like, he said.

I like the city and the people I met there, but I dont know if you have a special place in your heart for the team anymore. Obviously, it was a huge part of my life and I loved being there, and at the time I wanted to be there for the rest of my career.

Its not just Burns who will be facing some old mates. Marty Havlat was also traded to the Sharks from the Wild, while Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley will make their respective returns to the Tank since the flurry of offseason activity between the two clubs.

While its a new situation for Burns, it's somewhat old hat to Havlat, who has played for four teams in his 11-year NHL career.

Its always a little different when youre playing the team you used to play for and you know all the people there, said Havlat, who named Minnesotas Marek Zidlicky as one of his closest friends. Well see how it goes.

Weve started well, and theyve started well, too. Everybodys happy so far.

As for the head coach, Todd McLellan isnt surprised that the Sharks and Wild have both seemed to benefit from the offseason trades.

Thats how trades should work out. The days of fleecing some of these general managers doesnt exist. They are bright, they do their homework and have really good staffs. The business part of it keeps it very honest.

He wishes nothing by the best to his former players on the Wild, which also includes winger Brad Staubitz.

Were well aware of the fact that Stauby and Heater and Seto are there, he said. Were following them, and we want them to do well. Its not a selfish thing, they were Sharks for a long, long time and they gave us everything they had. When theyre successful were very happy for them.

Now, that doesnt mean when they come into our building that we dont want to beat them, but theyre great people and we want them to succeed.

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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