Hockey scrums can be excruciating exercises. Boring questions and predictable answers delivered dryly in a claustrophobia-inducing space.
The Brent Burns hockey scrum, of which there were several during Canada’s run to the World Cup, is a different animal.
Candid and tangential, Brent Burns’ quotes touch on sport, of course, but they veer off to ideas both larger and smaller than the rink.
A whack of Burns’s chatter had no easy place in our articles surrounding the tournament. Still, we think you may get a kick out of them. We did. So we listened back to our recordings and resurrected The Lost Tapes for an all–Brent Burns edition of stray thoughts.
1. The “winning attitude” is a myth.
“The media talks a lot about ‘This guy’s got a winning attitude and this guy doesn’t,’ but at the end of the day it’s a team game. So much has to go right for a team to win. It’s just such a special feeling when you do get that chance. It’s just so hard. There’s 30 great teams in the NHL. Hard to get there. Then when you get there, it’s hard to win. It has nothing to do with this guy being a great leader and the other guys aren’t.”
2. Hockey success is like catching lightning in a bottle.
“It can change quick. Look at us [in San Jose]. We were flying for three series and just couldn’t get that magic back [in the final versus Pittsburgh]. It happens every year. There’s a team you look at like, ‘Wow, they’re playing really well.’ An injury can derail it. A cold power play. Cold goalie. Or it goes the other way: You run into a hot power play and it snowballs. So when you do get a chance, you just hope it all comes together.”
3. Arrive early enough at the Blue Jays game to get in on the free toque giveaway, and you’ll score the perfect topper for a game-day suit.
4. Let’s stop hating on hockey’s World Championship…
“For some reason, the world championship in hockey people don’t think of it as big, but if you talk to a skier who’s a world champion, that’s massive. World championships are a big thing. They come at the end of the year and you’re physically beat, mentally beat. Sometimes it’s hard to do those. But Hockey Canada does a great job of making it fun, making it a life experience for us. I had a blast there.
“It’s not the Olympics, it’s not the World Cup, it’s not a Stanley Cup. Hey, when I was a kid, I loved to win tournaments at the Toronto Marlies Classic. Silver Stick—big tournament. The Quebec [International Pee-Wee] tournament—huge tournament.”
5. …but—memo to the IIHF—maybe we could shorten it.
“The World Championship is fun for sure, but it’s still long. Finish the year and it’s three or four weeks for us before you even start. Get there, and you have another couple weeks to go. It’s a big chunk. It’s awesome, I love doing it, but it’s still pretty long.”
6. Even after watching Canada mate Brad Marchand cash in to the tune of $49 million, the most valuable member of 2017’s UFA class is in no rush to sign a new contract.
“I don’t even think about it, to be honest. I got another year left. I’m excited for the year. It’s great for him; I was excited for him. I was hoping he’d take me and the family out for dinner, but I haven’t seen it yet. Still waiting.”
7. Taking it easy in pre-season, or cutting out jujitsu, won’t prevent injuries.
“I bet you more guys get hurt lifting weights. I get asked that all the time about jujitsu or doing biking. I bet more guys get hurt doing a 300-pound squat. It’s all part of it. If you want guys in great shape, they gotta work out. Shit’s gonna happen. If you want guys blocking shots, it’s gonna happen. It sucks. You don’t wanna see it.”
8. The World Cup is a fantastic place to stock up on memorabilia for your five-year-old son, Jagger.
“I got an Ovie jersey signed, a Sid jersey signed. I’ve got a McDavid jersey waiting in the wings to get signed. He’s still young; he doesn’t really get it. He likes to wear jerseys, but he’ll get to that point. I’ve talked to a lot of guys who’ve played but they don’t get sticks. At the end, they’re like, ‘Man, I should’ve been getting stuff.’ During the year, you forget about it. It’s hard when you think of him as a buddy you go to dinner with, but 10, 15 years when you look back, you’ll have all these things you can look back on.
“This is a dream of all of ours since we were kids having jerseys. My parents just gave me one of my old jerseys—I had that Phoenix jersey with the jigsaw puzzle. It’s great to pass it on to my kids now.”
9. Not a bad place for Dad to boost his collection, either.
“My dad is walking around with his cards, too.”
10. Pavel Datsyuk is the one that got away.
“It’s important to get those guys. I never got a Datsyuk. You don’t even think about it. You play with him for so long. We played them in Pitt, I’m like, ‘Man, I didn’t get a stick from him signed.’ That’s a legend. It’s tough when you don’t do it.”
11. Burns’ favourite throwback sweater is the Bruins’ bear head. Not surprising, coming from a fierce animal lover.
“I did love the Phoenix jerseys when they came out. I loved the Sharks jerseys as a kid. I love the Blackhawks, Leafs… I wore jerseys to school every day as a kid.
“I do actually like the Team Europe jerseys. [Jaroslav] Halak’s pads are cool, too. If I was a tendy, I’d have great gear.”
12. Even while he was winning the World Cup with Canada, Burns would FaceTime with a couple of Sharks teammates at training camp—but he didn’t miss the pre-season grind.
“You’re not working out as much. It’s a good trade-off.”
13. Still, training camp is a wonderful time of the year.
“Get a schedule. Get out of the house. By that time the wife doesn’t like you that much anyway, so it’s good to get out.”
14. Savour the journey.
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) September 22, 2016
15. Way back in 1996, a kid Burns collected World Cup tradeables from McDonald’s.
“I loved that logo back in the day. The blue and red guys.”
16. And he doesn’t care if you think the actual World cup trophy is goofy-looking.
“It’s not about the trophy itself. It’s about winning. If you’ve seen any of our soccer games, it’s not about getting that soccer ball trophy.
“Guys are intense doing anything. Fantasy football gets intense. I got smoked [in Week 3] by that meathead over there, Cootch [Logan Couture]. And he was 0-and-2. Not good.”
17. He just expects greatness out of Sidney Crosby now.
“It’s pretty amazing when you have a guy amongst your peers that shocks everybody on the ice. Your peers are like, ‘How did he do that?’ He’s been doing it for a long time now. Doesn’t shock me anymore. I just expect it.”
18. It’ll be time to read Viking books once he finally finishes with the dwarfs and dragaons.
“I watch a show on BBC [called The Last Kingdom]. It’s a Viking show but not the Vikings on History. I just bought the books. Haven’t started them yet. Still reading Game of Thrones. It’s a tough one to go through. If you don’t read every day, you gotta read back, like, six chapters.”
19. Jagger is a hurricane in the sack.
“That’s what makes sports great—golf, basketball, football, doesn’t matter. It’s all about having special times with your family. History, family sharing. I got them in the [hotel] room right now. Sleeping’s a little interesting. My daughter’s grinding her teeth, my little guy’s a hurricane in the sack. That’s stuff I wouldn’t know. It’s all because of hockey.”
20. That chin pelt of his is a lifestyle. Get used to it.
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) September 22, 2016