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Facing old team a new experience for Burns, Setoguchi

by Eric Gilmore
SAN JOSE -- For Sharks defenseman Brent Burns and Wild forward Devin Setoguchi, the shock of getting traded for each other as part of a blockbuster deal on Draft Night is over.

Now comes the next step in what has been an emotional transition for both Burns and Setoguchi after parting ways with the only NHL organizations they had ever played for: Both players will face their former teams Thursday night at HP Pavilion for the first time since they were traded.

Another pair of players who traded places this summer -- Minnesota forward Dany Heatley and San Jose forward Martin Havlat -- will also face their former teams for the first time. But both of them have been through this drill multiple times; each is with his fourth NHL team.

For Burns and Setoguchi, facing their old team is a new experience.


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Burns went out to dinner with about 10 of his former Wild teammates Wednesday night -- just hours after he told reporters that he loved his time in Minnesota and his old teammates but wanted them to go 0-82. He said he took tons of grief on Twitter for that comment, but said anyone who, as he put it, gets "fired" from a job, would feel the same way.

"They work at Ford and they get fired from Ford, do you think they're going to buy a Ford truck anymore?" Burns said Thursday morning. "No. They're probably going to go to another company because they got fired. It's the same thing. I got traded. Obviously I've got a lot of friends there. It's great to see everybody. You want everybody to do well, but when a team gets rid of you, I think any normal person should have that competitive edge in them.

"You don't want them to do well without you and have people think it was because they got rid of you. I think the trade worked out well for both teams. I think it was great. But you still have that competitive edge. I'm not coming here hoping all those guys score two goals and we lose. I think it was pretty obvious. Good old Twitter world. They jump all over you."

Setoguchi was traded one day after signing a new contract with San Jose, the team that took him with the eighth pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. Two years later, he played his first NHL season as a Shark at the age of 21 -- and had no inkling he was about to be dealt.

"I'd been in the organization my whole life," Setoguchi said. "I didn't know anything else. Obviously it sucks to leave. You have so many friends, even outside of hockey that you meet.  To come back, you see them. It's going to be fun.

"Disappointed it happened, but it's done with. It's three months past already. You don't need to dwell on it now. Things are going good. You make new friends, new teammates. I get a new opportunity to better myself as a player. Do I want (the Sharks) to win? No. So we got to beat them. Do I want them to be higher in the standings? No. I want home ice advantage. I don't wish that they go 0-82, but I don't want them to beat us. We worry about ourselves. That's all you worry about. Whatever they do, they do. I'm not part of that anymore. You've got to focus on your team and what you need to do."

Burns was drafted in the first round by Minnesota in 2003 and played 31 games for the Wild that season as 18-year-old. He played seven seasons for the Wild and literally grew up in the organization.

"It's a weird thing getting traded," said Burns, who signed a long-term contract with the Sharks shortly after being traded to San Jose. "It's been great. It's taken a little bit getting used to. It's a big change. I was there for a long time. Just a matter of knowing people in the organization, the trainers. If you're hungry, you know the city real well. I think coming here it's been an easy transition, but it's still a transition. It's a little shock."

Heatley, who previously played for Atlanta and Ottawa, spent just two seasons in San Jose. He acknowledged that his homecoming isn't nearly as intense as the one Setoguchi is experiencing.

"Obviously I’ve got a lot of friends there. It’s great to see everybody. You want everybody to do well, but when a team gets rid of you, I think any normal person should have that competitive edge in them." -- Brent Burns on playing his old team, the Minnesota Wild
"I know when you got to the original team that drafted you, it's an emotional game for sure," Heatley said. "I know he's excited and he's going to be going tonight pretty good. It's still different for me. It's a little funny coming back here. I enjoyed my time here. I like this rink here. I always have, whether as a visitor or a home guy. It's a fun place to play and I'm excited for tonight."

Havlat played for Ottawa and Chicago before spending two seasons in Minnesota. He said he's approaching tonight's game as if just one of 82.

"It's always a little different when you're playing the team you've been on," Havlat said. "But I'm just going to try to take tonight's game like every other game this season. Important two points for both teams."

Setoguchi said it will be impossible to treat this as just another game. He said he'll have to guard against getting too excited when he takes the ice at the Shark Tank.

"When you get really revved up for a game, sometimes that's a bad thing," Setoguchi said. "In the playoffs or something, you get really pumped up for a game, but you're running around not doing much. So obviously there's got to be structure. Your legs are going to feel good, you're going to feel good. You want to do everything you can in order to beat your other team. That's  just (human) nature."
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