NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns:
NEW YORK -- Brent Burns sported a new addition to his unique look Monday.
Burns had a picturesque shiner below his left eye to match his grizzly beard, blueish greenish striped suit, camouflage hat and stuffed camo backpack, which would be a big problem for other passengers if he were flying coach class.
"Got it last game," Burns told NHL.com of the black eye when he was on his way out of Madison Square Garden. "Just a stick in the face."
When told he should take a picture of it for his own keepsake, Burns laughed and said, "You know, I don't ever get black eyes, so it's kind of nice to get one."
Video: SJS@NYR: Burns rips wrister top shelf from the slot
A black eye could be a painful black mark for some people; for Burns, it sort of just fits his personality as a fun-loving free spirit who plays hard and isn't afraid to get his nose dirty, or look in the mirror after it does.
The Sharks have benefited from having Burns around since 2011, but he'll tell you that he's benefited even more by being in San Jose and being around players like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Burns has helped the Sharks to a 2-1-0 start with three goals and three assists. He was huge in San Jose's push to its first Stanley Cup Final appearance last season. Burns had NHL career highs in goals (27), assists (48) and points (75) in the regular season, good enough to be a finalist for the Norris Trophy. He had seven goals and 24 points in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He talked about the impact of getting to the Stanley Cup Final last season, the vibe in San Jose now, his position and his favorite thing to do in the offseason during an interview with NHL.com prior to the game against the New York Rangers on Monday.
Here is Five Questions with…Brent Burns:
Just getting to the Cup Final last season, how did that maybe change your approach coming into this season, knowing now what it takes to get that far, to get that perspective of how difficult it is?
"I don't think it really changes anything. I mean, it's a team game, and I think it's just so hard to get there that you just enjoy it. It was just a great run, great to be a part of. You have to get back there, though. It's hard. A lot of stuff has to go right. It's just really something special to go four rounds and you just want to get back there.
"You know what, we just had such a fun time doing it. I've had harder times in the playoffs when you lose in the first round. I've felt worse. I really just enjoyed it. We had a great group and we really enjoyed coming to the rink. It was really fun. I was excited even at the end because it was a great run. I got right back into workouts. I don't know. Maybe it would have been different if I was beat up, but I wasn't beat up."
Video: SJS@NYR: Burns rockets a snap shot past Raanta
You were chatting with some reporters before this interview and talking about the vibe in the dressing room and how good it is. Where does that come from? What's the genesis of that?
"I think it starts with the team. It starts with management to coaches. I think they allow that atmosphere. There is laughter and that's contagious. We just have fun. I've been in places where you're scared to laugh, scared to say a joke, and our team is not. It goes from management to coaches to the leadership. When you've got a guy like Jumbo [Thornton], who loves the game and his passion is higher than most guys, you respect him so much for that and what he's been through, his experience and his skill. But his passion too, I think it just drops into everyone else. We just have a great group. Really it's just a fun place to come. That's my personality too. I've been in different places so I can imagine what is different. I'm always going to live this way, but it's just nice to have it. I always have fun at the rink no matter what, it's nice when everyone else is doing it too. That makes it a great spot."
You were a forward growing up, became a defenseman, then went back to play forward for one season in San Jose and scored 22 goals, but then moved back to defense. How did playing forward and the success you had there playing with Joe Thornton change or affect how you play 'D'?
"It definitely gives me a different way of thinking on the ice, but I think it's individual skill work and stuff like that that has changed. I've lost time to learn defensively, but I feel good with my game. I think coming to San Jose and seeing how these guys work really helped get my game to the next level. It's been a good experience. I think confidence is just key. As I've gotten older I've learned from some of the guys I look up to, see the way they do it and the way they believe in themselves. Jumbo has been huge for that. I love [UFC featherweight champion] Conor McGregor and I read a lot about him. I look into his mindset, his training. It's very similar to Jumbo, actually. I think sitting next to Jumbo has helped that kind of game."
Video: LAK@SJS: Burns hammers home loose puck to break tie
What is your favorite thing to do in the offseason?
"Right now, RV. I mean, there's just something really cool about it. Obviously here it's nice to have a schedule and be regimented to that schedule, be organized, but in the summer there's something really cool about not caring where you are, what time you wake up, where you're working out. You just do it. You spend that quality time with the family and just explore the country, drive around. There are certain places I have to be at certain times, but in between I don't really care where I am. It's nice."
Where did you guys end up this summer?
"A lot of places. We did over 12,000 miles. It's great. I'm trying to get my wife to sell the house and just live in the RV now. It'd be really nice. I really like it. I think it's just totally different and there is something freeing about that lifestyle. The kids love it too. They've got their own little TVs there too. What's not to like about it? They can watch Sofia the princess wherever we are. I did a lot of parking lot workouts, RV camps. A lot of runs, weight vest stuff, body circuits. I like that stuff. I like having a little bit of a different regimen. [Sharks strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Potenza] is great, sending me a lot of different circuit workouts. Sometimes it's nice to get out of the gym, out of a squat rack."