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Burns not dwelling on Cup Final loss

Sharks defenseman and Norris Trophy finalist eager for new challenges

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

LAS VEGAS -- Brent Burns hasn't let the pain of his Stanley Cup Final loss linger.

The San Jose Sharks defenseman already has put the six-game defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the rear-view mirror and moved on to the next challenges in his career. Burns, a first-time finalist for the Norris Trophy at the 2016 NHL Awards Show on Wednesday here (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, Sportsnet), was in a philosophical mood during his media availability Tuesday about the 24-game playoff journey he took with his teammates to the first Cup Final in San Jose franchise history.

"When it is done, it is done," Burns said. "You put everything into it but you can't change it, so you can't really dwell on it. At the end of the day, you have to be proud of the guys. I've seen the growth in a lot of our players and what our guys did and how we came together. It was such a special year and a lot of fun.

"To play those extra [24] games; it's great to be a part of that. It is just such a fun journey. You are upset [when you lose] and you can use it as motivation to get better and get to the next step, to climb the mountain fully. It's like somebody climbing Everest. Even if they have to turn around 400 meters from the summit, it is still an unbelievable thing to be part of."

As Burns says, getting so close to hockey's summit likely will serve as motivation for the 2016-17 Sharks, who should return the majority of their key players.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, another finalist for the Norris Trophy, believes Burns will be even better -- and hungrier -- after processing the disappointment of falling short of the final goal.

"It's a confidence-booster," said Doughty, who won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012 and again in 2014. "You match yourself up against who the best teams are that year, and that obviously is the best competition. It will definitely help him. [Burns] getting that little taste in the Stanley Cup Final will make him want it even more. Now he is going to want to go back and get there again and win it. He will benefit from it and get better."

A better Burns is a scary thing for the rest of the NHL.

Burns had a monster regular season, scoring 27 goals and finishing with 75 points, the second-highest total among defenseman behind Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators. But Burns might have been even more dominant during the postseason, when he scored 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 24 games to lead all defensemen in scoring.

However, Burns doesn't spend time thinking about his accomplishments. He is too busy trying to enjoy what will be the shortest summer of his professional career. His season ended June 12 with San Jose's Game 6 loss to the Penguins. He will report to Team Canada training camp in early September to begin preparations for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

For now, Burns is trying to cram in as much fun as he can during his down time.

That fun began this week in Las Vegas, where he said he is just glad to be mentioned in the same Norris Trophy conversation as Doughty and Karlsson.

"It's a huge honor," Burns said, still sporting the long beard that was among the iconic images from the 2016 playoffs. "It's something where you see guys every year getting it, and those are guys I like to watch and try to learn from."

But he is just as concerned with embracing all Vegas has to offer. The city's larger-than-life ethos is perfect for the larger-than-life personality of Burns.

"I'm here for the golf, some good food and taking the kids to some Cirque du Soleil shows and enjoying myself," he said with a smile. "To be able to come to events like this is always special. To be able to come here and see other guys from around the League and everything that is going on here, it's always great. And, you get to share it with your family. It's always a special thing to be able to do."

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