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Sharks to use Burns at forward? (Update: Yes!)

Mar 12, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

There was a strange sight at San Jose Sharks practice over the last two days — former All-Star defenseman Brent Burns skating up front.

As a forward.

A winger, to be specific.

The experiment began on Monday, first noticed and followed up on by David Pollak of the Mercury News:

A reasonable explanation. Burns has been out of the San Jose lineup since Feb. 23 after suffering an undisclosed injury in the first period of a 3-1 loss in Dallas.

Given the rigors of a shortened season, practices are few and far between, so it makes sense the best way to get Burns back into shape was to skate him as a forward.

But then, on Tuesday, the intrigue heightened — Burns took line rushes with Scott Gomez and James Sheppard.

More, from Pollak:

This wouldn’t be the first time Burns has played up front.

He played wing in junior and was routinely used as a forward in Minnesota under then-head coach Jacques Lemaire. Here’s more, from a 2008 piece in the Minnesota Star-Tribune:

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire absolutely loved Burns’ game on the right side of Andrew Brunette and Eric Belanger during Thursday’s 4-0 victory against Phoenix. “He had four chances to score, if not five,” Lemaire said. “He missed the net on four. I know he won’t miss the net every night.

“He has a sense where the puck’s going to go, where to go at the right time to get the puck. That’s what I like about his offense. … There’s not a lot of guys who are scorers that do that.”

Burns brings energy and intensity, and he flies up and down the ice better than most players. Burns also has a 6-4 frame, so he can bang bodies like a true power forward. Thursday, he registered a game-high five hits on the forecheck.

“Burns, he likes it. He’s excited to play,” Lemaire said.

There’s been no confirmation the Sharks actually intend on using Burns up front, but one final thing to consider — the Minnesota connection.

During the 2004-05 campaign, Burns was playing for the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston, and his head coach at the time?

None other than his current bench boss, Todd McLellan.

UPDATE: Pollak confirms that, assuming Burns gets clearance to play tonight vs. St. Louis (which McLellan thinks he will), Burns will skate with Gomez and Sheppard and get powerplay time on defense.

  1. btlpper68 - Mar 12, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Honestly with his skilset u Can’t b surprised but for the sharks anyone who can score forward or defense would b helpful

  2. sjsharks66 - Mar 12, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Excited to see how this plays out. He seems to enjoy playing offensively more than defensively anyways.

  3. esracerx46 - Mar 12, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Got a feeling McLellan’s ass is getting warmer.

  4. letsgopens8771 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    I disagree with this. He has a huge body and a big shot. Ideal for defenseman. You need him in the back.

  5. sjsblitz - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    New power forward to fill the hole Clowe is leaving??? Me likey!

  6. pandorasdadca - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Hey, it’s not like the Sharks’ PP can get any worse. Or the rest of the offense for that matter. They’re actually playing really well on D with the guys they have.

  7. in1chuck1we1trust - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Sounds like the sharts could use Charlie Coyle right about now. Too bad.

  8. dan46778 - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    It makes sense bc u skate alot of playing forward then play d n skating is the best way to get back in to playing shape

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