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NHL tough guy inspired by UFC star McGregor

By Norm Clarke  (VSiN Columnist) 

June 24, 2017 02:33 AM
Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks received the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in the NHL.
© Courtesy photo

One of the baddest dudes in hockey is a big fan of UFC king Conor McGregor.


It figures.


Brent Burns is the San Jose Sharks’ version of Ivan the Terrible. Long, black scraggly beard. Two front teeth missing. A warrior on skates.


McGregor is leaving the comfort zone of the octagon to take on unbeaten boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Aug. 26. Boxing rules only.


Burns met McGregor, a fellow kindred spirit, in March 2016.


“It was extremely inspirational to watch a guy like him and see him train,” said Burns. “It was unreal to watch him train.”


Their introduction came in February 2016, shortly after McGregor accepted a fight against Nate Diaz on 10 days' notice.


McGregor “had just learned he was fighting someone else and he really didn’t care,” said Burns.


McGregor was “very humble, extremely kind to take time out of his training to let me ask questions and pick his brain about certain things,” said Burns, an hour after he received the Norris Trophy for best defenseman at the NHL Awards show at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday.


“He’s just a special athlete,” said Burns, “one of those generation guys who comes around every once in a while and it’s fun to learn and try to take things from his training.”


Burns returned for the fight.


“It was buzzing. Oh man, it was cool. So it will be fun to play in Las Vegas because it’s an exciting place.


“Like I’ve always said, we’re pretty lazy. When we go on the road, we like to go from our bed to a restaurant and back to bed, so we got that here. It’s not far to anywhere. So that’s nice.”


By the way, in the perfect world, the hockey gods would see that Burns ends up with the Vegas Golden Knights. Visitors to his home are greeted with an armored medieval knight standing guard in the foyer.


The scene and heard

Fans of “House of Cards,” and going back much, much further to “Puttin’ on the Hits,” will recognize Allen Fawcett in an upcoming role as a pilot in “House of Cards.” His scene in the latter is with Will Conway, played by Joe Kinnaman. Kinnaman’s character, also a pilot, has a meltdown in the scene. Fawcett lived in Las Vegas for years. Dick Clark gave him his big break on TV when he hired Fawcett as the host of “Puttin’ on the Hits” in 1984. He was the face of the syndicated show for five years. He landed soap opera roles on “General Hospital” as Swedish heartthrob Larsen and “The Edge of Night.”…


Brayden McNabb quite possibly holds the claim to fame of being the first member of the Golden Knights to set foot in T-Mobile Arena. The former Los Angeles Kings defenseman saw a Coldplay concert there last September. Cody Glass, the Golden Knights’ No. 1 entry draft selection, played at a hockey tournament in Las Vegas in his teens. Swede Eric Brannstrom, the Knights’ third-round pick on Friday, was asked by the media if he had been to Las Vegas. No, he said, but he added, “I’ve seen ‘The Hangover.’”


Tweet of the week: Eric Bergen, a former member of the “Jersey Boys” Las Vegas production, tweeted this Thursday: “Last nite, recording new album in the studio, told I had to move my car because I was in @Cher’s parking spot. I’ve never more honored.”


Giving credit where it’s due: Helen Yee of http://www.LasVegasSportsNetwork/eyesonthegame had an interview with Floyd Mayweather Sr. more than a year ago in which he told Yee his son was planning to fight McGregor.   


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Sweet deal: Chumlee dives into candy business


On this day…

June 23, 2001: In his first fight in the USA, WBC super bantamweight champion Manny Pacquaio defeats Wethya Sakmuangklang of South Africa by a TKO at the MGM Grand. It’s was one of many bouts in Las Vegas for the Filipino megastar, who’s also a singer, actor and politician.

June 24, 2000: After a sold-out concert with her fellow Dixie Chicks, lead singer Natalie Maines marries actor Adrian Pasdar in a $55, post-midnight ceremony at The Little White Wedding Chapel. Then they go out with the other Chicks and win $740.



At Beerhaus at The Park (CityCenter) after the NHL Awards and expansion draft on Wednesday: Members of the Pittsburgh Penguins, including Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel along with club owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux. Also at the party hosted by MGM Resorts International: Actor Joe Manganiello, who hosted the awards show, and his wife, “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara, and actor-comedian Taran Killam, who partied in the company of the Stanley Cup…

German-born model Jasmine Sanders, an Instagram sensation, dining with a group at Tao (Venetian) on Thursday.


The punch line

“Discovery Channel is promoting its upcoming Shark Week by promising to have Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps race a great white shark. But don’t tell him. It’s a surprise?” – Seth Meyers.

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