Burns houses a Wild bunch

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

You want Minnesota Wild?

Check out Brent Burns' basement.

The Wild defenceman offers awkward silence and a few unfinished sentences when asked about his game these days, but ask how his yellow Burmese python Banana is doing and he's all smiles.

"She got out on me the other day, actually," said Burns, chuckling.

"She's doing well."

Some call his cellar the Burns Zoo.

They're not far off.

He's got birds, huskies, cats and a big saltwater fish tank that includes a shark and poisonous lionfish -- the only venomous creature in his house. The snakes are locked away safely in an escape-proof basement at the 9,100-sq.-ft. home in which the 23-year-old has lived for more than a year.

An incident at his old abode helped him map out his current setup.

"I lost one (snake) for four months, about five-and-a-half feet long, and it was not fun," said Burns, before the Wild took on the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome last night.

"I looked everywhere in the house. I tore it upside down. I figured she was in a wall. One morning I watched Saving Private Ryan and (used) the little mirror trick. You've got the mirror on the knife ..."

Burns found her curled up six feet under the floor in the sump pit. Escape from their terrariums is inevitable. They're nature's Houdini.

"They're gonna get out. The muscle control on them is pretty amazing, so they can get out of pretty much anything," Burns said. "They can get into any hole. They could crawl up a cement wall like this and get into that vent," he added, pointing to a grate on the roof of the visitors' dressing room at the 'Dome.

"In the new house, the room is all quarantined. They can't escape from the room. It makes it a little bit easier when they get out. Just follow the trail of damage and things knocked off the shelf and sooner or later you'll find a snake curled up there in the corner."

For Burns, reptiles are a hobby. The way things have gone for the Wild lately, he could use the distraction.

Heading into last night's game, the Wild had won just three games and earned seven of a possible 24 points up for grabs this month, falling well behind in the battle for the Northwest Division crown.

Burns is scoreless in six games with a minus-3 rating in that span. His teammates are equally cold right now.

Luckily, he's got the cold-blooded crew when he needs to get his mind of hockey.

Up to 40 snakes were in his basement last spring, but he's also breeding his pets.

The Burns Zoo is growing.

"No giraffes or anything yet," he said, grinning. "I'm looking into it."


Videos

Photos