San Jose Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns’ personality is as charismatic as his suit choice for the 2015 NHL Awards.  “I’m wearing Giovanni,” Burns declares, of his tailored navy blue and black trim suit.  “He makes custom suits for a lot of guys in the NHL.  He’s done my suits since I was eighteen.  He sent this to me, we’ve got weird bodies (hockey players) and he’s done a great job for a lot of guys.”

Burns received the NHL Foundation Player Award for Outstanding Charitable and Community Work at the 2015 NHL Awards and it’s easy to see why.  This award recognizes the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community.  NHL Clubs submitted their nominations for this award and the finalists were selected by a judging panel.

With this award the NHL Foundation also donates $25,000 to the winner’s chosen charitable organization.  Burns has selected two beneficiaries.  Folds of Honor, which provides educational scholarships for family members of injured and/or deceased military men and women is the first.  The second is Defending the Blue Line, affording children of military members the opportunity to participate in the game of hockey by providing hockey equipment, game tickets and unique experiences with professional athletes.

Brent Burns post-NHL Foundation Player Award  win at the 2015 NHL Awards

Brent Burns post-NHL Foundation Player Award win at the 2015 NHL Awards (photo credit: A. Gallagher)

“I’ve met a family in San Jose – who her and her husband have three kids and they love hockey.  Which is cool to hear about in San Jose, that they have grown to love hockey.  Her husband is on a ship for several months out of the year and they don’t see each other.  Her and the kids come to the practices all the time and hockey is just a way for them to keep their family happy and going on every day.  I think of the stresses that they go through and I know how hard it is for us, with our two kids and for me to go on the road for 2-weeks.  Our kids are crying when I’m leaving and to think about doing that for several months is just unheard of.  It’s just amazing to meet those families.”

Known as a fun-loving individual both on and off the ice, Burns is heralded for his passion for giving back to the game and fans who have treated him so well.  Over the past nine years, he and has family have supported several military organizations and other fundraisers.  Most recently Burns and his family traveled to Australia to participate with the not-for-profit Stop Concussions Foundation, an organization that was established to educate and raise awareness on the cause, effects, and consequences of concussions and neurotrauma injuries, specializing in concussions, by Keith Primeau and Kerry Goulet.

Brent Burns at a zoo in Australia

Brent Burns at a zoo while in Australia (photo credit: J. Potter)

“I think everybody in hockey has been effected with concussions in some form or another.  Growing the game in Australia, it was unbelievable to go over there and play in a full building with people just loving the game.  Some of the people were just seeing the game for the first time.  I have always wanted to go to Australia, so it was on the bucket list for me.  To get to go there with my family and to support not only a good cause, but to go to a place I have always wanted to go to and see the other side of the world – amazing cities and the people were awesome.”

“Brent with kids is just unreal.  He took the time to talk to every single person who wanted to speak with him – about anything, even his love of snakes.  That’s just the kind of guy he is”, Equipment and Social Media Manager of the 2015 Ice Hockey Classic (USA vs. Canada) tour, Jeff Potter, recently shared.

Burns two passions are the military and animals.  Down the road when it is time for Burns to hang up the skates, he hopes to venture into the military world somehow.  “I don’t know if I’ll be working in the zoo or maybe be able to get into the National Guard of some sort, however I’m Canadian so I don’t know how that would work out.  I’ve been lucky to be able to live out my second dream through meeting these people (military men and women) and hearing their stories.  I find it’s very similar to the people who serve in the military to the dressing room the way the people are, the way they interact, the brotherhood.  You always hear about guys the hardest thing about when they leave the game is the (loss of) interaction with each other, so it’s very similar.”

Burns face lights up when he is asked to talk about animals.  When asked what his favorite animal is, “it’s usually the last animal I see.  We went to the Sharks Reef here in Vegas.  They had a sea turtle that was over 50-60-years-old.  I wanted to jump in with the sharks but we weren’t at the right place to do it.  I wanted to do it.”  Soon enough he will be back on the ice with his very own shiver of sharks.

Kristen is currently an Account Executive with the Syracuse Crunch Hockey Club (AHL). She just completed her M.S. in the "Sport Venue and Event Management" program at Syracuse University. Previous to this venture, Kristen completed her undergraduate degree at the State University of Oswego in Public Relations, with a brief stint in Broadcasting, both with a sports emphasis. Another passion that Kristen has is fashion. She spent several years working in the retail management industry, most recently with Anthropologie.

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