The 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Nashville on Jan. 31 is less than a week away. In the lead-up to All-Star Weekend at Bridgestone Arena, NHL.com sat down with a host of this season's participants to talk about playing in the game. In this edition, defenseman Brent Burns discusses representing the San Jose Sharks in the All-Star Game.
1. What does being an All-Star mean to you personally?
It's a huge honor. I've said it before, to represent your team and the League at an event like this, it's always great.
2. What is your favorite memory from previous All-Star Games?
For me, I think it's the special moment I've had with my kids on the ice, both of them. In Carolina with my daughter, last year in Columbus, my daughter and my son. I think these events are really just great things for the family, to get the cool picture out there with my kids. My kids are getting to the age where they know it's a pretty cool event. It's just great. To have my dad and my father-in-law there. It's just really fun.
3. If you could invite any celebrity to the All-Star Game as your guest, who would it be and why?
I'll keep it local. I'm a big fan of Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Gavin DeGraw. I know they're kind of local guys. And to have a fourth guy, Blake Shelton would probably be pretty fun. That would be a fun dinner.
4. Who from your divisional All-Star team would you put on your trio if you were the coach of the team?
I think any of the guys is going to be fun to play with. There's going to be a lot of speed and a lot of skill. I'm looking forward to playing with Johnny [Scott]. I think it's going to be fun to have him out there. It's going to be tough to get the puck off him. He's such a big body. You can't go wrong with any of the guys. I think Pav [Joe Pavelski] and Johnny would be a fun line.
5. In a perfect world, you get to pick what song you skate out to for player introductions at All-Star Game. What song would you choose?
I've got, like, four songs I listen to before games. Two Gavin DeGraw songs. And then Sinead O'Connor, The Foggy Dew. I like that one. I like Keith Urban too. Any Gavin DeGraw, Keith Urban or Foggy Dew. Throw a little mixture of those three. I'd get DJ Matty Nieto to mix me up something."
6. If you could have dinner with three other players from this year's All-Star Game, who would you pick and why?
There's guys that I've played with there, it would be good to reconnect with. You can go that way. There's guys from the World Championship team I know that are going. It would be fun to catch up with those guys. And then guys I think it would be fun to have dinner with, [Alex Ovechkin]. It would be fun to pick a guy like [Jaromir] Jagr's brain. He's just a legend. It's always fun, hanging out in the room, getting to see guys when they're a little looser. It's always a fun time.
7. Cowboy boots or cowboy hat as a fashion accessory?
My wife's from Texas, so I've got to get both.
8. Alex Ovechkin passed 500 goals this season. Do you think he can get to 800 before he retires?
Yeah. He's an unbelievable talent. To do it in today's game -- as long as we're not playing him, it's fun to watch. Yeah, I think for sure. He's a pretty unbelievable player. He's fun to watch, he's a funny dude. He's a great guy. It's fun to see him at events. He's loose. I think it's pretty amazing to see a guy that's that skilled that has fun. He just loves the game. You can talk to him on the ice. It's fun to play against a guy like that.
9. What did it mean to you to win the NHL's Foundation Player Award for outstanding charitable and community work?
I think it's good for the things that I represent. The charities, I think it brings a little bit more notoriety to those too. I mean, to be honest, that's not the reason why I do things with the military. I enjoy meeting those people and hearing stories, being allowed into that world and helping them kind of get away from their stresses for a night. That's the reason why we do it.
10. You're on pace to have career highs for goals and points. Do you think you're playing the best hockey of your career?
I think you've just got to ride the wave. What comes, comes. I feel good. I feel really good. I really love our coaching staff here. It's been really, really great with the atmosphere, with our systems. I think I really have had a great time coming to the rink and staying here. I think that attitude and that energy really goes a long way into having a good year and feeling good about your year. I think that's been really, really good for our team and for our attitude. I think that's been a great thing for a lot of guys.
11. How much has it helped to have Paul Martin as your defense partner the whole year and have that consistency?
To have that consistency is huge. He's a really, really smart player that reads off of not only me, but I think he reads the game really well. It's been great. Last year going back to 'D' was hard. I was having different partners a lot. Whatever. It's kind of what happens. It's fun in a way because you get different energy. It makes you excited to have a different guy. But this year it's been nice. I come to the rink and I know I'm playing with Marty. After games we can chat about plays, good or bad. It's just good. I think you get comfortable with a guy. You get that ability to read off each other better and knowing where guys are going to be. I think that's important.
12. How much more comfortable are you this season after having that full season last year, returning to defense?
I think even one year, you feel more comfortable for sure. You've got guys in the League that have played defense for 15 years, 12 years, 10 years, five years. It doesn't matter. You're still getting better, you're still learning. It's just a process. You're always getting better, you're always learning things. We got a new 'D' coach this year. [Bob Boughner] has been great, helping me. Systematically, positionally, confidence-wise, feeling good about my game. I think those are all really, really important, to learn new things but to also feel good about yourself. They've been so good with building all of us up and really making it a place that we want to go to work. It's been great.