Brent Burns was presented with the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's most outstanding defenseman at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
He is the first-ever player in Sharks franchise history to win the award.
“At the end of the day it just shows that you’re around great people,” Burns said. “I’m lucky from day one Doug [Wilson has] really believed in me, [and] our coaches have been awesome.”
Burns, who quipped that he “kind of blacked out there for a little bit” when his name was announced, rattled off a list of past and present Sharks that aided him on his journey.
“I’ve said before, coming to San Jose and getting to learn from a guy like Jumbo (Joe Thornton), and Patty (Patrick Marleau), and Pavs (Joe Pavelski), and Clowie (Ryane Clowe), Boyler (Dan Boyle) – these guys all really helped change my mindset and the way I looked at the game. And Paulie (partner Paul Martin) now has been huge for me on and off the ice. I can’t say enough about how much he’s helped me.”
After finishing first among defensemen in the regular season with 29 goals and 76 points, and leading the league with 320 shots, Burns was thought to be the frontrunner ahead of fellow finalists Erik Karlsson from Ottawa and Tampa Bay’s Viktor Hedman. Karlsson, a two-time winner, was second.
Last season, Burns finished third behind winner Drew Doughty and Karlsson. This time, he got to walk up to the mic.
“Going up there doing a speech is a lot harder than getting forechecked by four or five guys,” he said.
Burns received 96 first place votes to 63 for Karlsson and three for Hedman.
Burns, 32, became just the second NHL defenseman to lead his team in goals (29, tied with Joe Pavelski), assists (47) and points, joining Kevin Hatcher (1990-91, Washington Capitals). Burns’ 29 goals were the most by an NHL defenseman since Mike Green had 31 for Washington in 2008-09. He played in all 82 games, posting a plus-19 rating with 40 penalty minutes.
Named as the Sharks team MVP as chosen by the local media, as well as the Fan Favorite award this season, Burns signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the Sharks on Nov. 22, 2016 that kicks in next season.
The deal keeps him with the organization potentially through 2024-25.
Burns was also a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player as chosen by the NHLPA, but that was won by Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.