February 27, 2017 By Paul Gackle

Rink Notes: Sharks’ Burns Says Don Cherry Has a ‘Point’ About His Beard

SAN JOSE — Don Cherry insists that Brent Burns isn’t getting enough credit for the dominance he’s displaying on the Sharks blue line this season and the 31-year-old defenseman agrees with the crux of the longtime CBC analyst’s argument.

Is the most offensively-explosive season by an NHL defenseman in more than two decades getting overshadowed by Connor McDavid’s emergence as a true generational player in Edmonton? Are Burns’ exploits getting lost in the shuffle because he plays on the West Coast in a non-traditional hockey market?

According to Cherry, the problem is Burns’ trademark, his unruly beard.

“People don’t take him serious because of his beard,” Cherry told a national TV audience in Canada on CBS’s Coach’s Corner Saturday night. “I know that’s an awful thing to say.”

As awful as the suggestion might be, Burns isn’t dismissing the idea that his achievements on the ice are getting overshadowed by his off-ice Wookie persona, which of course, is tied into that scraggly beard.”

“I think he has a point,” Burns said. “A lot of people think I’m goofy and joking around.”

“I don’t care about that. I like to have a beard.”

At this point, Burns acknowledges that he’s sick of talking about his beard. He initially grew it simply because he wanted to be like his father, Rob Burns, who wore a big-bushy beard when he was younger.

“I always loved that,” Burns said. “I’ve always looked up to Navy SEALs, Green Berets; they’ve always had the big beards. The hockey players, you always see pictures from the playoffs — big beard. It’s been a thing for me. I’ve always felt more comfortable with it. I love having it. I don’t care what other people say about it, but I think he (Cherry) has a point.”

But Head coach Peter DeBoer isn’t on board with Mr. Canada’s thesis.

“I respect Don a lot and I love listening to him, but I think (Burns) has earned the respect of everybody in the league,” DeBoer said. “Don’s message there is this guy is the real deal, regardless of anything else that they write about or talk about, the beard or the personality or whatever else, the backpack. The bottom line is he’s, if not the best player in the NHL, in that conversation.”

With 65 points in 61 games, Burns is a lock to win the Norris Trophy this season. But he also has a shot at the Art Ross Trophy, ranking third in the scoring race, trailing McDavid by six points and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins by two points.

He’s also leading the NHL in shots on goal (246), looking to become the first defenseman since Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins in 1986-87 to lead the league in that statistical category, making him a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate, too.

But if Cherry is onto something, Burns’ beard could set him back with hockey writers when they vote for hockey’s top individual award on the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs in April.

Would Burns be upset if his beard cost him Hart Trophy votes?

“I don’t give two (expletives),” he said.

Donskoi Gets ‘Closer’: Joonas Donskoi returned to full practice on Monday, but DeBoer said he won’t suit up for the Sharks game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the SAP Center on Tuesday.

Donskoi skated on a line with Tomas Hertl and Melker Karlsson in practice, in part, because Micheal Haley was absent on a, “personal day.”

DeBoer said Donskoi, who’s missed the Sharks last 13 games with a right-shoulder injury is,” getting closer.”

“It’s his first real practice with contact, so it’s a good step,” the Sharks coach said.

Donskoi said it, “feels great” to rejoin the team in practice after spending more than a month on the sidelines.

“It feels like it’s been so long time being out, so it’s been boring practicing along with (Dylan DeMelo),” he said. “It’s different practicing with the team.”

Sharks Recall Sorensen: In the latest addition of who’s going up and down, the Sharks recalled forward Marcus Sorensen while reassigning forward Barclay Goodrow and defenseman Tim Heed to the Barracuda.

Sorensen has played in two games with the Sharks this season, collecting one point.

DeBoer acknowledged that Sorensen’s speed could be an asset against the lightning-quick Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The 24-year-old Swede is also riding a 10-game point streak with the Barracuda.

“They have to be playing well down there,” DeBoer said, referring to Sorensen’s recall. “That’s always the first thing on the list.”