BURTON HAS FOUND HIS HOME IN FORT WAYNE
by Gina Jones
At four years of age, Jimmy Burton played his first hockey game, and at 25 he's returned for his sixth season with the Komets. He evidently hasn't tired of the game yet. "I'm real happy to be back. It's kinda like home now. I was looking forward to the new season," said Burton.
At the end of last year, Burton had decided he was going to return to Fort Wayne this fall if he could get his contract with Buffalo worked out. He was released from his contract this past summer. Is the light shining at the end of the N.H.L. tunnel still? "Yeah, you never know. Hockey's a funny sport. When you think you're done, something comes along. I'm happy here though. I'm happy playing with the Komets," states Burton.
Jimmy joined the team in the 1981/82 season, and he took a year away to play in the American Hockey League. "This league will compare with the A.H.L. this year," said Burton.
Burton has always played the position of defense, and it's a position he plays well. "I am extremely pleased to sign Jimmy for two years," says Coach Laird. "He's proven to the league that he's a top defenseman by winning the Governor's trophy. He's fast, and can run the power play. He scores at any moment in the game," continued Laird.
Burton has proved himself through hard work and dedication. His statistics show his talent. In the '85/'86 season, Burton played 82 games, had 30 goals, 64 assists for 94 points, and only 47 penalty minutes. He was also selected the Most Valuable Player that season. "Winning the M.V.P. was a big thrill for me," said Burton. Last year he racked up 71 points in 61 games that he played in.
Jimmy recently signed a two year contract. Only one other player in Komet history has signed a two year contract with the team, and that was Len Thornson. Has Burton set any personal goals for this year? "No personal goal really for myself. Id like to have as good of a year as I did two years ago. Id like to play in every game, but mostly I want the team to bring home the Turner Cup!" said Burton.
With no more Steve Salvucci, Dale Baldwin, and Ron Leef, Jimmy Burton will be the oldest Komet veteran on the team, and probably the one most looked up to by the younger players. "It's kind of a funny position to find myself in. I never thought I'd be in this position. I'm looking forward to working with the younger guys, and one of the biggest rewards is when you know the younger kids have all the
talent, and you can give them the littlest help and they make it to the N.H.L. That's great," states Burton.
Being a young team is not going to hinder the Komets though, not in Burton's opinion. "I think the goal-tending is going to be excellent again this year, and we have lots of good young defensemen," said Burton.
This season, and then next, will probably be Burton's last on skates. "I'll stay here in Fort Wayne. Obviously I will be looking into career moves, possibly in golf. Id like to manage a course. It's a great environment. Second to hockey, it's my favorite thing. I'll take a few business courses the next two years too," says Burton.
Burton's stuck with hockey this long for the sheer love of it. "I love the sport. I enjoy the camaraderie that comes from the team. I like to play, and I love the game," says Burton.
Have an exciting year, Jimmy. The fans will be backing you all the way.