SAN JOSE -- Brent Burns could return to the Sharks’ lineup as soon as Thursday, when the team opens a five-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
General manager Doug Wilson updated the winger’s status on Tuesday, stressing that it will be up to Burns and the team’s medical staff to clear him to return from an unspecified upper body injury that apparently started with a whack to the face from Ottawa goalie Robyn Lehner on Oct. 12.
Wilson said: “Could he play Thursday? I think he could. I think there’s a chance. … I think he’s really close, and it could be as soon as this week. But, that will be decided by him and the medical staff.”
Burns accompanied the Sharks on most of their five-game road trip, returning to the Bay Area after Friday’s game in Edmonton. He has missed the last 13 games.
The Sharks would like to make sure that when Burns returns, he returns for good, which is the same approach they took with Dan Boyle in his return from a head injury.
“We’re a better team when [Burns is] back in the lineup, and we look forward to it, but we’re not going to do anything stupid that prevents him from being here long term,” Wilson said. “He’s too important a player. We think we treat all players that way.
“It’s one of those unknown things. I know our players play through more than any other athletes. … He’s a big strong guy, he can help us, but we are not doing anybody any favors if he’s in and out.”
Since the start of the 2013 season, the Sharks are 15-10-10 when Burns is either in as a defenseman or out of the lineup, and average 2.26 goals-per game. They are 23-9-2 with the converted blueliner playing as a forward, and average 3.21 goals-per game.
In eight games in this season, Burns has four goals and four assists for eight points.