SAN JOSE -- Adam Burish took a stick to the mouth and suffered a chipped front tooth as he was killing a penalty during Thursday's practice at Sharks Ice. A few moments later, he was back to his normal self, trying to block shots.
The Sharks are hoping Burish, nicknamed "Burr," stays in character. The 30-year-old centerman was signed in July to a four-year, $7.4 million contract for his grit, ability to kill penalties, win faceoffs and for his championship experience.
Burish, listed as 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, might also provide an abrasiveness the Sharks have lacked over the years. He also might serve as a vocal presence on the ice and among his new teammates.
"There's always a little piece of an engine that makes it go," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
"Maybe Burr can be that guy. Maybe he can stir up emotions, not just versus the opponent but within the locker room. He's earned the right to be that."
"It might take a little while, but I think he can be a big part of the team, especially in the locker room," said Sharks goalie and former Blackhawks teammate Antti Niemi.
Burish wasn't signed to be an offensive force, that's for sure. In 297 games over six NHL seasons, Burish has scored 54 points.
But he was a factor for the Chicago Blackhawks in their run to the Stanley Cup in 2009-10, and over the last three seasons has 115 blocked shots, 155 hits and 181 penalty minutes.
It appears he will open the season on the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins.
McLellan liked what he saw Thursday, Burish showing an antagonistic side and a willingness to stir it up.
"I don't think his commitment level to the team's success through being an abrasive player is ever going to come into question," McLellan said. "We're excited about having that element here."
Burish, who graduated from Wisconsin with a degree in economics, was captain of the NCAA championship team that also featured the Sharks' Joe Pavelski. He knows the Sharks and their regular season success, and he hopes to provide an ingredient that can return the team to elite status.
"Fun isn't always just laughing and joking. It's competing, it's working, it's being confrontational," Burish said. "All of that's kind of fun and it brings an attitude, and I hope I can bring an attitude. I have fun doing it."
Burns' team photo for the Sharks, with his unkempt hair and a beard that appeared to not have been trimmed or shaved in at least a month, made a splash on the Internet and Twitter on Thursday after it was posted on Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy hockey blog.
Some of Burns' teammates were shown his most recent team picture, and mostly shrugged their shoulders.
"I've seen him grow it, but not keep it so long," said defenseman Dan Boyle. "Maybe it was a lockout beard. I don't know what he's got going on there."
Burns has not been at the facility in recent days and McLellan did not have an update on his injury, other than saying Burns has been continuing to receive treatment for the injury and is making progress.