Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Goodbye Burnzie...

Blah... I knew this day was coming but that didn't make it any easier.  This afternoon, the San Jose Sharks traded defenseman Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes for what appears to be peanuts... (hopefully we're all very wrong about that though...)

This one really hurts.

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I shouldn't get emotionally attached to players... but I can't help myself.  I do.

I know the NHL is a business and I know this was necessary to free up some cap space.  (I keep reminding myself that we need money available next year to sign Timo Meier to another contract.)  And Brent hasn't looked great the past few seasons.  He's had a tough time at the blue line and he's made some bad plays.  But knowing all of that still doesn't make this any easier.  It stings right now.

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There has to be a plan that none of us are aware of.  The Sharks organization has been very clear that we're in a "reset" mode right now.  (Not a re-build, a reset.)  It's difficult, but I have to trust that Sharks management has a direction that they're trying to go in, even if it's not clear to any of us right now.  Still, change hurts sometimes.

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While Brent was the player that made the most sense to trade, he's one all of us fans are sad to see go.  I'd wager that the organization will be sad to see him go too.  He seems to be a well-liked guy in the locker room too.  You can't help but love the guy.  

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He's always marched to his own beat.  Across the NHL, he's known for his grin with missing teeth and his gigantic beard.  In San Jose, he's well known for wearing his camouflage suits and various hats to the arena before a game.  He drives an old vintage truck.  He's got a giant ranch in Texas with all sorts of animals... some that you normally only see at zoos.  A few years ago, he guest starred in two episodes of Vikings.  He was even mistaken for a cast member, dressed up as a pirate, by a child at Walt Disney World.  He's just a genuinely cool guy that you'd want to hang out with.

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When Brent was traded to San Jose from the Minnesota Wild in 2011, I was following the Sharks, but not nearly as intently as I do in the present.  It's funny looking back at it now, but I remember the first things that endeared me to him was learning our "new guy" had a giant Harry Potter tattoo on his leg.  (I remember seeing a photo of it and thinking, "He's a Harry Potter fan? Sold!")  From that moment, he was a favorite.

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Through the years, we've had a lot of fun memories of Brent.  Right now, there are too many to think of, but I had to write about a few of the highlights that come to mind:

For Halloween 2013, I surprised Eliot and had Eeyore dress up as Brent Burns.  He had a Sharks Build-A-Bear jersey that was numbered 00, so I got out some stickers and cut them down to make it 88.  Then, I added a Burns nameplate.  The best part of the costume was definitely the beard I made out of brown felt and taped on.  Eeyore couldn't be Brent without his signature beard!

I just about melted when Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns went to the 2016 All Star Game and they brought their boys.  Jagger Burns and Nate Pavelski took the ice with their dads during the Honda Breakaway Challenge and the guys had taught the boys how to do the Flying V.  It was probably the cutest thing ever and it still melts my heart.

Of course, I have to include our epic playoff run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals.  This is probably the crowning moment of San Jose Sharks history thus far.  Winning the Western Conference Finals and making it to our first ever Stanley Cup Finals was something that I'll never forget.  And Brent was part of what made it magical.  While we didn't win the cup that year, cheering on our boys in teal was pure joy.  I was so proud of them; it was the moment that cemented my never-ending love for the Sharks. 

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Throughout the 2016, 2017 and 2017 seasons, the Sharks released a bunch of funny commercials based off the slogan "you cheer for us. we cheer for you."  These were very popular in our house and I was excited to watch every time a new one was released.  But the outtakes were probably better than the final commercials.  (See the outtake of the following video towards the bottom of this post.)

In 2017, Brent won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defensemen that season.  He had back-to-back 75 point seasons and the man was on fire.  Watching him shoot pucks like rockets from the blue line into the net was always a thrill.

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That same year, he and Joe Thornton ("Jumbo") were models in the 2017 ESPN Body Issue.  (Yes, the magazine where all of the athletes are photographed completely naked.)  Like most Sharks fans, Eliot and I got a pretty good chuckle out of it... mostly because we could only imagine the antics at the photoshoot with these two goofballs- giant hockey players with long beards both running around naked all day.

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Side Note: I was today years old when I realized that Burns also has a bunch of Disney characters tattooed on his other leg opposite the Harry Potter one.  I was laughing at the hat photo (pictured below) and I thought I saw Belle.  When I zoomed in, I was shocked to find Mickey, Minnie, Belle, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Tinker Bell, Simba, Dory and Nemo all above a pirate ship with Davy Jones on the front of it.  Totally awesome!

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In October of 2018, Sharkie visited with Brent's wife Susan who was pregnant with their third child.  He predicted a girl and gave the baby it's first Sharkie Bite!

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A few months later, Olivia was born and Sharks Territory celebrated with Brent, Susan, big sister Peyton and big brother Jagger.  Baby Shark doo doo doo doo doo doo... 

On December 27, 2018, Brent Burns played his 1,000th NHL game at home against the Anaheim Ducks.  He was the 328th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 game mark.  At the time, he was one of 23 active players reach that accomplishment.

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January 12th, 2019, the San Jose Sharks honored Brent's 1,000 game achievement with a special ceremony before their game against the Ottawa Senators.  It was a really special night.  Brent skated out of the Shark Head with his son Jagger before the ceremony.  Then, his wife, kids and parents all got to partake in it.  It's tradition that NHL players are presented with a silver hockey stick at the 1,000 game ceremony, but Brent also got a few other gifts.  His teammates all chipped in and got him a fossilized melodeon tooth, as well as two antelope for his Texas ranch. 

One of my favorite Sharks memories was attending the 2019 All-Star Weekend in San Jose.  We had three of our guys make it that year: Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Erik Karlsson.  Eliot and I went to the All-Star Skills Competition and the All-Star game, and we also went to the Fan Fest expo twice that weekend too.  (That's where we touched the Stanley Cup!)  It was such an amazing thing to experience live at the Shark Tank!

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Attending the All-Star events was really special, but it was also fun to come home to see the footage from the television perspective.  My favorite highlight video was where they had Jagger Burns wearing a GoPro on his helmet during the All-Star Skills Competition and you could see the event from his point of view.  I was getting a kick out of him and Nate playing around, but it was even better to see it from ice level!

The other cute thing to come out of All-Star Weekend was a video of Brent's daughter Peyton conducting interviews with the players on the red carpet.  It was adorable to see her interview the players from other teams... and even better to see her with Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski since she knows them.  And Brent was so proud!

The biggest Brent Burns highlight for Eliot and I was actually meeting him at Sharks Ice when we went to their practice back in March of 2019.  I'm so glad that Eliot got his jersey signed by him when we had the chance.  (All three players we got to autograph our jerseys that day are no longer with the San Jose Sharks now... sad face.)

One of my newest San Jose Sharks jerseys (that I haven't even worn yet) is my 30th anniversary Brent Burns jersey.  Eliot asked me why I was buying it a few weeks ago, knowing there was a good chance we could lose Brent before this season.  I said that I didn't care and that I was ok with it either way.  It was the only version of the Sharks 30th Anniversary jersey I could get in a women's style.  Plus, it didn't bother me that it was Brent's name and number since I've wanted a Burns jersey anyways. 

Although he's had a few rough years lately, there are so many great moments that Brent created for Sharks fans.  It would be impossible to write about them all... but he's made an impact on the ice.  He's also been one of our leaders in the locker room.  I'm going to miss his presence, and I'm sure the other Sharks players will too. 

And nothing could compare to the on ice chemistry Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski had... Burnzie would shoot a bullet at the net and Pavs would tip it in, changing the angle so the goaltender had absolutely no chance.  Watching them connect like that to score was electric.  And it happened again and again.  Eliot and I had the privilege of watching them practice it when we watched the guys at Sharks ice.  (You couldn't pay me enough to step in front of a Brent Burns rocket.)  It was insane.

We're definitely going to miss Brent.  A small part of me is a little bit bummed that reports of Burns going to Dallas were wrong.  He probably would have liked being so close to his ranch.  Plus, I was secretly hoping for a Burnzie and Pavs reunion.

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For years, I've always joked about me being "crazy for my eights" as it seems that most of my favorite Sharks players have an 8 somewhere in their jersey numbers: 

8- Joe Pavelski

28- Timo Meier

48- Tomas Hertl

88- Brent Burns

Even though I had a hunch this was coming, it still stings.  Now, two of my Crazy 8's are no longer in teal.  (Although, they'll always be Sharks to me.)  I'm relieved that Hertl signed his extension to stay in teal long term.  I won't lie- I'm a little concerned about how this season is going to go... and if the results and vision will be enough to make Timo want to stay.  He had a career year last season, and I'm sure many teams would want to grab him.  But he was our top goal scorer, top in points, All-Star... we can't lose him.  (Not to mention that I'd be devastated.  Anyways... one thing at a time.) 

Looking at the Sharks 2022-2023 schedule hits a bit differently today.  Those back-to-back home games that open our season look rather promising right now.  It's probably too close to our trips in September, but seeing Carolina Hurricanes vs the Sharks on Friday, October 14th really has me wanting to go to the Sharks opening night game.

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I also did a bit of research to find out when the Sharks were playing in Carolina.  That game is Friday, January 27th, back-to-back with a game in Pittsburg on the 28th.  It seems a bit crazy since that's the same week we'd be going to their game in Boston on Sunday the 22nd, but I'm deeply intrigued.  It's 8 hours from PNC Arena (Carolina) to PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburg)... and that's drivable so long as the weather doesn't stink.  Maybe our Sharks road games this year will literally be our own road trip?  I'll have to talk to Eliot about it first; I guess time will tell... 

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Today, it's a sad day in Sharks Territory as we officially say goodbye to the man we affectionately call by many names: Wookie. Burnzie. Chewbacca. BB-88. Brent Burns.

Thank you for 11 years in teal Brent.  Thanks for the fun and the laughs.  Thanks for always making us smile.  Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to the San Jose Sharks organization.  Thanks for the incredible memories.  Thanks for being you.

We will truly miss you, but we wish you nothing but the best in Carolina.  °o°

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