Brent Burns will play in his 1,337th NHL regular season game Tuesday, tying Adam Oates, when the Carolina Hurricanes face the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Ask a few people who know Brent Burns how long they think the 2017 Norris Trophy winner will be able to play in the NHL, and you’ll get roughly the same answer.
“As long as he wants,” said Carolina Hurricanes forward Stefan Noesen.
“It’ll be up to him to kind of decide when to pack it in,” said Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour.
“He can play for a long (expletive) time,” said Mario Ferraro, a former Sharks teammate.
What do you think, Mr. Burns?
“Until they drag me off by my ears,” Burns said before the Hurricanes’ game against the Sharks at SAP Center on Tuesday. “We’re so blessed to do this every day and I’ve been really lucky to learn from some people how to take care of yourself, and there’s obviously a lot of luck in that.”
Burns, now in his 20th NHL season and five months shy of his 39th birthday, will have played in 1,337 NHL regular season games, including 798 with the Sharks over an 11-year span. Burns will also have completed an Ironman streak of 765 games, which began on November 21, 2013.
Which begs the question: how far up the NHL’s all-time games played list can Burns climb?
Burns will tie Adam Oates for 57th place on the all-time list tonight, and if he plays every game the rest of the way, he will move up to 36th with 1,415 games, one game behind Hall of Famer Al MacInnis.
Burns will be 265 games behind Zdeno Chara (1,680) for the most games played by a defenseman and 364 games behind Patrick Marleau (1,779) for the NHL’s all-time lead at that point.
Is it possible for Burns to reach those numbers?
“You’d have to ask him but he’s definitely capable of doing that,” Ferraro went on to say. “He’s clearly a specimen. It’s almost as if LeBron James has shown no signs of slowing down. Burnzie is the same way. Every year, he increases the figures. He’s played in every game this year, totaling 82.”
Marleau’s record came after he finished his career with 910 consecutive games played, the fifth-longest streak in history. When Marleau played his 1,786th game and passed Gordie Howe for the NHL’s all-time lead, there was a feeling he’d keep it for a long time.
Is it possible to break it?
“Well, who knows? To be honest, a lot of that is just luck,” Brind’Amour said. “But it’s not luck in the sense that these guys are all prepared and take care of themselves to get themselves in that situation.” But every now and then, a freak thing happens to get you out of it.
‘As a result, I don’t want to go into too much detail. But if there’s one guy who can do it, it’s definitely him.”
Burns stated that it takes longer to prepare for each game these days, as one might expect. Furthermore, as players age, their priorities may shift.
“I don’t think it’s the body that fails unless you’ve had some tough injuries,” Burns told reporters. “It’s just that it gets harder to get going and warm up as the routine lengthens, and commitments away from the ice are usually what make it difficult — missing kids’ events and things like that.”
“So I’m not sure. You must thoroughly enjoy it. You must do everything else you possibly can. But it’s a lot of luck, a lot of grinding and enjoying the grind, because the warmups are so much longer.”
Burns is in the seventh year of an eight-year contract that began in 2017-18. Burns, on the other hand, should have no trouble signing another contract after scoring 61 points last season, ranking 12th among NHL defensemen, and averaging more than 23 minutes of ice time per game.
“Anyone’s going to give him an opportunity no matter what,” he said. “A guy like that can fit into any system.” He still has the ability to shoot the puck, skate, and make a good first play. I’m not sure how long he wants to (play), but I’m sure he will.”
“I don’t care what you do with your life.” ‘Can you get up and do it again, knowing how hard it is?'” Brind’Amour explained. “And then you’re like, ‘I’ve got to do this again tomorrow?'” Isn’t that the distinction? The great guys understand, ‘OK, I’ve got to do this today, and it’s going to be difficult, but it’s what makes me effective.’
“Put my head on the pillow and I’ve got to do it again tomorrow, and that’s where I think (Burns) separates (himself), because he’s willing to do that.”