Vocal Burish showing Sharks what he's made of

Vocal Burish showing Sharks what he's made of
January 17, 2013, 3:00 pm
Share This Post

Adam Burish scored 6 goals and collected 13 assists in 65 games last season with Dallas. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – New Sharks forward Adam Burish doesn’t have a whole lot of time to integrate himself into the team, with just one week between the start of training camp and the Sharks’ first game in Calgary.

On Thursday, though, his teammates got a glimpse of what kind of player he is. Burish caught a high-stick (from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, we think), chipping one of his front teeth. Instead of going off of the ice for repairs, the 6-1, 195-pounder remained and kept going at full speed, even diving in front of some shots.

“He’s starting to feel more comfortable. Some of the battle drills he did today, he was very antagonistic in them. He was stirring it up a little bit,” Todd McLellan said. “I don’t think his commitment level to the team’s success, through being an abrasive player, is ever going to come into question. We’re excited about having that element there.”

Burish, who has 54 points and 490 penalty minutes in 297 career NHL games, does have a few friends in the Sharks’ locker room already. He played college hockey with Joe Pavelski in Wisconsin from 2004-06, and won a Stanley Cup with Antti Niemi and the Blackhawks in 2010.

Niemi, typically a man of few words, had plenty to say about being reunited with his former teammate, who signed a four-year, $7.2 million contract on July 1.

“I think it might take just a little while, but he’s going to be a big part, especially in the locker room,” Niemi said. “He’s going to take a bigger part in the team getting ready for the games.

“I think he’s a guy that can make us bond even more.”

The Sharks that didn’t already play with Burish do have a good idea of what it’s like to skate against him, as he has spent all six of his professional seasons in the Western Conference with Chicago and Dallas.

“Just a super guy. He’s going to be a great teammate,” Joe Thornton said.

“Guys don’t like paying against guys like that, and I think it will help us out in that department. He brings a lot of life to the team. He’s going to be a fun player to play with.”

The Sharks have the reputation – whether fairly or unfairly – of being much too docile when the energy level is ramped up. Last season, the Sharks had a tendency to wade their way into games, and a slow first period was commonplace. San Jose’s 58 first period goals tied them for just 24th in the league, and the team led after the first period just 19 times in 82 games.

Burish’s energy, coupled with the new additions on the coaching staff, could help the team come out of the gate a little stronger.

Thornton doesn’t agree that the Sharks lacked a vocal guy in the locker room last season or in year’s past, but still welcomes Burish’s presence.

“We have a lot of guys that talk and try to fire each other up. I think it’s just another addition of it, which is great,” said the captain. “He’s known as a talker and an agitator. You don’t like to have too many vocal guys yelling and screaming at the same time, but it’s nice to get a new voice in here and see what he can do with this team, as well.”

“I enjoy being around the guys, and I guess I’ve always just thought that we’ve got a pretty cool job we have, to play in the NHL,” Burish said. “I don’t take myself too seriously. I like to have a good time. I think we should have fun, and to me fun is a lot of different things. Fun is winning, fun is working hard, fun is hurting a little bit. It’s not always laughing and joking.”

Burish’s early impression of the Sharks is a favorable one.

“It’s a skilled team,” he said. “A lot of good players, and a fun group to be around. To me, I get the sense they enjoy being around the rink and being in the gym. They enjoy doing extra.

“In the past, playing against these guys, it’s kind of shown. Just the little details of the game you can tell they work on. They’re always a good faceoff team, and now I’ve seen that they work on it a lot. Little plays around the net, they’ve always been good at. Picking pucks up around the net and finding ways to score, they work at it. It’s a team that likes to do a lot of extra.”

Burish has skated alongside Andrew Desjardins throughout camp, in what is two-thirds of the fourth line. It’s expected he’ll help kill penalties, too, as the Sharks try to improve on that much-maligned unit.

Whether it’s his even-strength play, role on the penalty kill, or rambunctious personality, McLellan is hopeful that Burish lifts a team that is bringing back virtually its entire roster from last season.

“There’s a little piece in an engine that makes it go. Maybe ‘Burr’ can be that guy,” McLellan said. “Maybe he can stir up emotions, not just versus the opponent, but within the locker room. He’s earned the right to do that. He’s got a lot of experience in the league right now, he’s won some championships, and he backs it up every night. I’d like to see that come out of him.”

Pavelski said: “He does all those little things, and he’ll spur a little energy throughout the group, definitely.”