Sharks coach weighs in on the Brent Burns debate

SAN JOSE — At 2:30 of the third period Tuesday, Brent Burns lined up on Joe Pavelski’s right wing, reigniting a debate that has divided the Sharks fan base for the last five years: is the reigning-Norris Trophy winner better suited to play forward or defense?

Trailing the Arizona Coyotes 2-1, head coach Pete DeBoer bumped Burns up to forward to give the Sharks top six more punch in lieu of Tomas Hertl’s departure in the first period with what appears to be a right-hand injury.

Although DeBoer is unwavering in his belief that Burns is a defenseman, he was forced to go all in because the Sharks forward depth is depleted in the wake of Joe Thornton’s right-knee injury suffered on Jan. 23 and Joel Ward’s right-shoulder ailment (Feb. 8).

“We moved him up front to try to give our team a spark. We didn’t feel dangerous enough offensively up front,” DeBoer said. “That’s not a move we take lightly, but the one thing about him is he’s all in for whatever we ask him to do to help the team win. If that means putting the pads on and playing net, I have no doubt that he’d do that.”

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Fortunately for DeBoer, it doesn’t look like he’ll need to ask Burns to make the shift on a long-term basis. The Sharks learned Wednesday that Hertl’s injury isn’t “as serious as it probably could have been”.

DeBoer labeled Hertl’s status for the Sharks game against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center as “doubtful”, but he isn’t expecting his second-leading goal scorer to be sidelined for a long-term period of time.

“As positive as doubtful can be,” the Sharks coach said.

DeBoer isn’t ruling the possibility that Burns …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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