SAN JOSE – Brent Burns expressed his disappointment that on Monday night against New Jersey, some technical issues at SAP Center prevented the team from skating out of the iconic Shark head.
“Pretty sad last night when it didn’t come down,” he said on Tuesday. “The boys are taking laps saying, ‘what’s going on with the Shark head? Where is it?’”
Burns will get plenty of other opportunities, though. Eight more years worth, to be exact.
The 31-year-old defenseman signed a monster eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the Sharks on Tuesday, which will kick in next season. Set to become an unrestrcited free agent this summer, the deal keeps Burns in teal potentially until the 2024-25 season.
“It’s really exciting,” Burns said. “It’s awesome for our family. It's a weight off your shoulders to get it done and just concentrate on hockey.”
The term of the deal was of utmost importance to Burns, who broke into the league with the Minnesota Wild in 2003-04 and was traded to the Sharks on June 24, 2011. That eight-year maximum was almost certainly why it took a little while to come to an agreement, as Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has never signed a player to a contract extension longer than five years.
Burns turned out to be the first exception to that internal, unwritten rule (although unlike some other contracts to marquee players, the Sharks left themselves a bit of flexibility in this one with a limited no-trade clause).
“The word I use for him is unique,” Wilson said. “To see that size and that skill set and that type of shot – you’ve seen how the game has evolved, especially in the last few years. There’s not many players like that that can create offense from the back end. But, he also defends well.
“I honestly do feel he’s just coming into his prime.”
That’s the hope, of course, as Burns will turn 32 in March and will be 40 by the time the contract expires. He is coming off of his best season as a professional in 2015-16 when he finished third in Norris Trophy voting as the best defenseman in the league, and has picked up where he left off this season, leading the NHL in scoring among defensemen in 16 points (7g, 9a).
Wilson and Burns both expressed confidence that the Wookiee will be able to be a contributing player for the duration of the deal. After all, Burns has remained generally healthy for the past few seasons, and will bring an iron man streak of 244 straight games into Wednesday night against Chicago.
“[Beard will] probably will have a little bit of grey in it, but the body will still be tight,” Burns said with a grin.
“I’ve been in the league for awhile, I still feel really good. Playing with guys like [Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton], you see how well they take care of their bodies. … I feel good. I feel really good.”
Burns has also developed a unique relationship with the fan base, thanks to his unrivaled offensive ability from the blue line paired with a carefree, almost childlike personality. It’s evident that he enjoys the relaxed California atmosphere, while playing for a team that is still considered to be a Stanley Cup contender after falling just two games short last season.
“Off the ice, [the fans are] just great. You’re in Five Guys and it’s just, ‘Hey Burnzie, win the next game. Good luck.’ That’s it. The people here have been great.
“They love their Sharks, and I think it’s something that even as a kid you love the logo, you have something that you bind yourself to. It’s just a great sports town. You get that speed lifestyle but it’s not, really. It’s relaxed up here. We’ve loved it here.”
Now, he’s the new, significantly bearded and front-toothless face of the organization.
“That’s a tough face, huh?” he quipped.
Get used to it.