Brent Burns’ season started about as well as he could’ve hoped, scoring eight points in eight games as the Sharks went 7-0-1.
Things haven’t gone so well since.
On Oct. 19, Burns took a puck to the mouth in a 6-3 win over Calgary. He sat out the following game with sore gums -- which, as you can imagine, wasn’t cause for concern of a major long-term injury.
Problem is, Burns hasn’t played since.
Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Buffalo was Burns’ seventh straight game on the shelf. Reports out of San Jose regarding his condition have been vague and limited -- he’s skated some, even took the ice in full pads once -- but on Wednesday, he left the ice early (after skating in a non-contact jersey) and declined the media’s interview requests.
The Sharks have been tight-lipped about Burns’ health status, staying far away from any word that might rhyme with “boncussion.”
For example, here’s the “update” head coach Todd McLellan gave CSN Bay Area on Monday:
“Getting closer, from what I’ve been told,” Todd McLellan said on Monday. “He’s welcome back any time, obviously. We’d love to have him back with our team. From my understanding, he’s getting closer.”
Could Burns return to practice this week?
”I don’t have that. He and the trainers and the doctors know when that will happen,” McLellan said.
CSN’s Kevin Kurz says San Jose’s been “vague” with specifics on Burns, but it’s clear the team isn’t the same without him. The Sharks are just 3-1-3 without Burns in the lineup, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those that paid attention to the team last year.
Many cite Burns’ move to forward as a major catalyst for turning around its ’13 campaign. At one point, Burns had 26 points in 30 games after moving up from defense, and San Jose went 20-9-1 over that same stretch.
His skating ability and forechecking prowess gave the Sharks a dramatically different look up front, which allowed them to spread their offensive talent throughout their top three forward lines.
So, there’s no doubt San Jose wants Burns back in the lineup.
The question now is, when will it happen?