This got started over at GTRCMBSHP but I think it deserves fleshing out.
WRT mentioned that Burns looks like he might be playing with a little more reserve and a little less panache than before his recent spate of concussions.
I think this is a very important story line for the Wild as this season (mercifully) winds down and the off-season re-tooling begins.
Burns is like Maverick the first couple times up in the air after Goose (ironically) bashes his brain in on the canopy trying to eject. But now, Burns/Maverick is back up there, and Wild fans are Merlin sitting behind him. And there's a nasty dog fight going on all around us, and the MiGs are outnumbering us, and our #1 is in the really deep doo-doo with like three MiGs on him, and they've got missile lock and it looks pretty bad for old Iceman, and we're back there going "Come on Burns/Mav! Ice needs us! Get in there man! We gotta help Iceman!" And Burns/Maverick is up front shaking his head and whisper/talking (like Tony Almeida in the first couple seasons of 24) "Talk to me, Goose. Talk to me. It's no good. It's no good." and disengaging before he even gets into the fray.
Richards obviously needs to sit him down and do a little good cop-slash-father-figure-replacement-because-he-flew-with-Mav's-old-man-back-in-the-'Nam Viper routine on him.
Richards: What's on your mind?
Burns: My options, sir.
Richards: Simple. First, you've acquired enough reputation to continue playing, or you can quit. There'd be no disgrace. That concussion was hell, it would have shook me up .
Burns: So you think I should quit?
Richards: I didn't say that. The simple fact is that you feel responsible for your brain and you have a confidence problem. Now I'm not gonna sit here and blow sunshine up your ass. A good defenseman is compelled to evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned. Out there, we gotta push it. That's our job. It's your option. All yours.
Burns: Sorry to bother you on another optional skate day, sir. But thank you very much for your time.
Richards: No problem, good luck.
The point here is that, if Burns decides he can't go for it - that the golden retriever has been tamed and his joie de vivre muted - then he starts down a road the end point of which is that he's no good to the Wild. He can start down that road and decide to turn off of it at some point, obviously. But the question is: is Burns at 80% of his former enthusiasm level worth a top four spot on the Wild? It's not like there are a ton of options behind him right now.
Maybe it's good that this season is almost over. Maybe Burns will tweak a rib (or something that would heal) and they can shut him down for the rest of this sad denoument to the Wild's 09-10 season - resting his beleaguered melon through the summer, in the process. Maybe he's totally fine (mentally, like) and he's just getting back into game shape - and this is all uncessesary worrying.
But, it's an interesting story line for Wild fans because Burns has the potential to be such an integral part of the roster.
For now, when Richards talks to Mike Ramsay, the conversation's pretty simple:
Richards: Tell me one thing, if you had to go into battle would you want him with you?
Rammer: I don't know. I just don't know.