SAN JOSE -- After declining to speak the local media on a couple occasions, injured Sharks forward Brent Burns answered some questions regarding his recovery from a series of high hits suffered in mid-October.
Burns hasn’t played since Oct. 19, but skated with his teammates again on Friday. It was the fourth straight day he’s been on the ice with the rest of the Sharks, so that’s a sign he’s making progress. It’s been difficult for Burns to watch from afar, as he’s now missed the last eight games.
“Yeah, it’s good. I’ve been fairly active, but it’s tough,” Burns said. “Day in and day out, as much as I like to work out and stuff, I don’t really love that. I love to play hockey.
“I really feel like we have a special group. It’s tough, you’re still here, but you’re not really as much of a part of it as you can be. You’re still not going through everything, so it’s tough.”
Burns, who was smashed in the mouth by the goalie stick of Ottawa’s Robin Lehner on Oct. 12, is still sporting a bright orange practice sweater. He's the only one wearing that color, so that's a signal that his teammates should be a bit careful when coming into contact with the six-foot-five, 230-pounder.
“He’s progressing,” McLellan said, declining to say whether Burns would join the team for its upcoming five-game road trip. “Today’s practice was a man’s practice, and he participated fully in it. That’s a good step for him.”
“As full as he possibly can without really getting drilled. He was involved in some battle drills.”
Burns still won’t get into detail about what exactly is wrong with him. The Sharks haven’t been forthcoming about the nature of his injury, and Burns stuck to the team protocol on Friday.
When asked when he might return to action, Burns said: “I don’t know. I don’t know any of that stuff.”
As for getting hit by Lehner: “I concur with that. … I’m not really supposed to talk about stuff.”
The Sharks have dealt with a number of injuries, including losing Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart earlier. Marty Havlat only recently returned from offseason pelvic surgery, and Raffi Torres and Adam Burish haven’t yet played a game.
McLellan was asked if injuries have played a role in the team’s recent struggles, as the Sharks have lost their last four games (0-1-3).
“I think we have some players coming back into our lineup that have been injured: Marty, Stuey, Boyler; those types of players that are coming back in all at the same time. It affects things,” McLellan said. “But, there’s no other way of getting them back in, but to play them.”
The head coach was clear, though, that it wasn’t an excuse for the 4-2 loss to Vancouver on Thursday in which the Sharks were outplayed and outworked for most of the game. It was their worst effort of the season.
“When you evaluate the whole roster yesterday, injuries and bringing guys back in had nothing to do with the other 16 or 17 players that competed,” McLellan said. “It would definitely be an excuse.”
Patrick Marleau said: “Obviously, you want to have a healthy lineup, but the guys that we brought in, we’ve won games with them. There’s a system in place. Execution needs to be there.”
Are injuries at least a contributing factor?
“It could be, but I don’t think anybody is going to use that as an excuse,” Marleau said.