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Wilds' Burns slowly returns to dizzying workout pace

McClatchy-Tribune News Services

Last we heard from Brent Burns, he couldn’t watch Wild games on TV because any motion made him dizzy, couldn’t read because it hurt too much and would sleep all afternoon in lieu of doing, well, anything.

Feeling the ill effects of a serious concussion that caused him to miss the final 19 games of the season and in reality ruined his entire second half, the Wild defenseman looked destined to have his summer destroyed and perhaps even his 2009-10 season damaged.

Well, find the nearest piece of wood and knock on it hard because barring any unforeseen setbacks, Burns essentially has been symptom-free for more than a month.

"There’s still a long way to go. It’s a long summer. But I feel like I’m on the right path," Burns said. "I should be good."

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On Friday, it was clear Burns, 24, was feeling a whole lot better, because after receiving treatment on his surgically repaired shoulder from trainer Don Fuller at Xcel Energy Center, Burns threw on his bike-racing attire.

Two months ago, any physical activity made Burns’ head spin like Pierre-Marc Bouchard in a shootout. Now, he’s waking up at sunrise again to bike with sidekick Derek Boogaard and taking part in charity races. On May 20, he even took a helicopter to Camp Ridley in Little Falls, Minn., with Boogaard, fellow teammates Niklas Backstrom, Nick Schultz and Owen Nolan and owner Craig Leipold to train with the National Guard.

Burns, who wore a sling for five weeks after surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove cysts from the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, still feels awful after some of his exhausting workouts.

But it’s not because of his head or shoulder.

"For not doing anything for three or four months, I’m definitely hurting," he said. "This is not your normal summer. I’ve done nothing since March, so even mentally getting yourself in the mindset of working out again is tough.

"I’ve never been this out of shape before."

But the good news for him is he’s feeling good enough get himself back into shape in preparation for next season.

Two years ago, Burns was developing into a star all-around defenseman. He scored a career-high 15 goals and 43 points in 82 games and was a rock defensively during the 2007-08 season.

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But last season, Burns was limited to 59 games, scoring eight goals and 27 points. He was plagued by injuries all season.

"Worst year of my life," Burns said. "It starts with (elbow) surgery two weeks before camp. I had that, then I had to play forward. Then I had the shoulder bothering me a long time. It finally doesn’t hurt (because of injections) and the first day back (from the All-Star break), I smack my head and then play through it."

"It was definitely a frustrating year. I’ll be glad to start new next season."

That should be music to the Wild’s ears. The Wild needs a healthy, confident Burns if it is going to transition into the up-tempo team new General Manager Chuck Fletcher envisions.

Burns is eager for the season, especially after having his first conversation with Fletcher.

"It was a good talk, and I’m excited for what’s coming," Burns said. "I think everybody’s real excited. I’m really looking forward to things. I’ll be definitely flying in camp."

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