DeBoer laughs heartily at photo: Thornton 'doesn't like his shirt on'

DeBoer laughs heartily at photo: Thornton 'doesn't like his shirt on'

PITTSBURGH – Joe Thornton and Brent Burns are already two of the more recognizable players in the NHL, standing at six-foot-four and six-foot-five respectively, and beards that are only slightly shorter than that.

Strolling about the Steel City on Wednesday, they caught the attention of one hockey fan who snapped a photo of Burns and a shirtless Thornton, and sent it to Pittsburgh radio host Colin Dunlap, who subsequently tweeted the image. As of Thursday morning, it had nearly 5,000 retweets and more than 8,000 likes.

After the Sharks’ morning skate on Thursday, Thornton simply said he was “just seeing the sights,” before quickly running off to the showers.

Head coach Pete DeBoer laughed heartily when asked if he had seen the picture.

“I did. [Thornton] doesn’t like his shirt on, we know that,” DeBoer said. “That’s the uniqueness and the beauty of our group.”

The Sharks play the Penguins on Thursday night in the first meeting between the teams since the Stanley Cup Final.

NHL Gameday: Pens hurting in Final rematch with Sharks

NHL Gameday: Pens hurting in Final rematch with Sharks

Programming note: Sharks-Penguins coverage starts today at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California


Sharks: 3-1-0, 6 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Penguins: 2-1-1, 5 points, 2nd Metropolitan Division


***The Sharks and Penguins will meet for the first time since Pittsburgh’s win in the Stanley Cup Final last June. The Penguins are, however, missing some key pieces to that series victory as Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Matt Murray and Conor Sheary are all out due to injury.

The Sharks are 2-1 on their current five-game road trip, which concludes on Saturday in Detroit.

“A lot of reminders for sure being back here not long ago,” Joel Ward said. “Definitely excited, a good challenge with us being on the road early again. We’ll try to notch another road win.”

***Pete DeBoer said after the Islanders game that he wasn’t sure what his emotions would be like when he walked into the rink, which is now called PPG Paints Arena. Now that he’s here, how does he feel?

“An overwhelming sense I think of pride for our group and the journey we went on,” he said. “I know we came up short, but the memories I have coming back in here are just of how our guys really emptied the tank. … They were the better team, but I was very proud of our effort. That’s the overwhelming feeling right now.”

As for Joe Thornton, he recalled that the last time the Sharks were here they won Game 5, prolonging the series.

“The last time we were here was a pretty good feeling,” Thornton said. “That’s all I remember, really.”

***Matt Nieto will return to the lineup for Micheal Haley, who played against the Islanders and helped to generate the first goal in the 3-2 win.

DeBoer stressed that Nieto wasn’t removed from the lineup due to his play, but that the Sharks are “going to rotate guys in and out” due to their improved depth.

“[Nieto] brings some more speed for us. I thought he did a good job the game before we took him out,” DeBoer said. “Hales gave us a real good game against a physical team against the Islanders, and Neets will go back in to tonight. He’s just got to do his thing.”

Nieto said: “Something they try to do is play fast, and they’ve got a lot of speedy guys in their lineup. I think if I’m moving my legs it could be effective.”


Sharks: Joe Thornton. The Sharks’ top line center broke through on Tuesday in Brooklyn, setting up the game-tying goal and game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Islanders. Thornton didn’t have a very good Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins with just three assists in six games, so perhaps he has some retribution on his mind, even if he doesn't want to admit it.

Penguins: Matt Cullen. The veteran center is doing his best to help minimize the loss of Crosby, and is tied for the team lead with three points (1g, 2a). Dating back to last season, Cullen, who turns 40 on Nov. 2, has 11 goals in his past 31 games.


Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (confirmed starter)
Aaron Dell

Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin – Nick Bonino – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Matt Cullen – Patric Honqvist
Tom Sestito – Eric Fehr – Tom Kuhnhackl

Olli Maatta – Trevor Daley
Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Derrick Pouliot – Brian Dumoulin

Marc-Andre Fleury
Mike Condon


Sharks: None.

Penguins: Kris Letang (upper body) and Conor Sheary (eye), Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Matt Murray (hand) are out.

Sharks visit Pens with chance to 'make a statement'

Sharks visit Pens with chance to 'make a statement'

BROOKLYN – On the Sharks’ current five-game road trip, none stands out as much as the upcoming fourth one. 

San Jose will visit the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday in the first meeting between the two clubs since last June’s Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks are off to a solid start with three wins in their first four games, but a victory over the club that ended their championship dreams just four months ago would likely mean more than their early successes.

“Now that it’s here, it will be good. It will be fun,” said Joe Pavelski, moments after the Sharks beat the Islanders on Tuesday night, 3-2. 

“Obviously we would have liked a better result last time we played that team. ... It’s a new year. It’s important that we keep building our game and keep trying to get better. We understand it’s a long way from getting back to that position. This is just another good team we’ll be playing.”

At least two of the key members of that six-game Final win won’t be in the lineup for the Penguins. Captain and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Sidney Crosby is sidelined with a concussion and has yet to make his season debut, while goalie Matt Murray is still recovering from a hand injury suffered in the recent World Cup of Hockey.

Pittsburgh is 2-1-1, but was smoked by the Canadiens on Tuesday in its most recent game, 4-0.

The Sharks, on the other hand, are seemingly at full health. That includes forward Tomas Hertl, who was knocked out of the Final series with a right knee injury late in Game 2 after he was the Sharks’ most effective player to that point.

“I actually finished with a pretty good game. I hit three posts,” Hertl recalled of his Game 2 performance.

“It should be a pretty good game I think, because everyone is excited from the Final last year. [We’ll] just be ready and show our best hockey, and take two points from them.”

Head coach Pete DeBoer isn’t sure how he’ll feel when he walks into the arena Thursday morning. When he lost in the Stanley Cup Final with the Devils in 2012, he didn’t go back to Los Angeles the following season due to the lockout and Conference-only shortened schedule.

“I don’t know what the emotions will be until I get in there,” he said Tuesday. “It was obviously tough to go on that long a journey and then lose the way we did.”

DeBoer has been vocal since training camp began that the Sharks won’t be sneaking up on anyone after their long playoff run. He reinforced that message when he called last Saturday’s 3-2 win over Columbus “sloppy,” and then ripped into the team for it’s lackluster compete level after Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Rangers.

“The ‘X’ on the back, that’s real,” DeBoer said earlier in the week. “You can’t just stick your head in the sand and ignore that. We’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared to buck the trend.”

The Sharks made some offseason additions designed to do just that and become a faster team, adding winger Mikkel Boedker and defenseman David Schlemko. Thursday will give them an opportunity to put that new on-ice product on display, and DeBoer didn’t shy away from calling it a “statement” game.

“I don’t think there was any doubt at the end of the day [Pittsburgh] deserved to win [the Final],” he said. “But at the same time, I think for us it’s a chance to go in and make a statement that we are a different team this year.”