Setoguchi, Heatley return to San Jose


Setoguchi, Heatley return to San Jose

SAN JOSE Former Sharks forwards Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley were saying all of the right things after practicing in their former city on Wednesday as members of the Minnesota Wild.

Yes, they are happy to be back to see some familiar faces, but they have since moved on from getting traded and want to help their new team win on Thursday night.

No one ever wants to leave the team they start with. Thats just how it is, said Setoguchi. I was drafted in the organization in 05 and I was there close to six years.

But, its going to happen. Youre not going to play with one team, and Im not upset. I obviously was a little bit ago, but now its good. Youve got to make the best of it, and Im having fun with it.

Heatley admitted he was a little shocked at first when he was shipped up North for Marty Havlat, but his play suggests that it is already in his distant past. Heatley is tight-checking, defensive-minded Minnesotas leading scorer with 10 points (5g, 5a).

When you like a city and you like your teammates, its always tough to leave, he said. I think thats anybody. It was the same for me. Thats the nature of the business, but when you come to Minnesota, its a group of great guys in the room. I really like the organization, city and fans, and Im enjoying myself so far.

Reaction from the fans could be mixed when it comes to the pair of ex-Sharks. Setoguchi came up through the organization and his affable personality endeared him to many. Heatley, on the other hand, had his worst full season as a pro in 2010-11 with 64 points in 80 games.

Hopefully, theyre not booing me, said Setoguchi. I had a good time here, and it was obviously sad to leave my friends and teammates, but you make new ones.

Good memories here, said Heatley. Ive seen some people already, some trainers and staff. It will be fun to play tomorrow.

The game will be more than just former teammates facing off, of course. The Wild are the hottest team in hockey with five straight wins, and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. Thats two points higher than the fifth place Sharks, who have played one fewer game.

We know were playing one of the best teams in the league tomorrow and well have to play well to win that game, said Heatley.

Setoguchi said: You obviously want to beat your old teammates and win the game. Thats our goal. We know were not going to come in here and get an easy game in the Tank. If theres anyone that knows that, its me.

Leafs place ex-Sharks LW on waivers, claim ex-Sharks RW

Leafs place ex-Sharks LW on waivers, claim ex-Sharks RW

The Maple Leafs continued their early roster tweaking on Monday, with a pair of moves — veteran winger Milan Michalek was placed on waivers, and the club claimed forward Ben Smith from Colorado.

First up, Michalek.

The 31-year-old — acquired, along with other spare parts, in the Dion Phaneuf-to-Ottawa trade — had appeared in all five games for the Leafs this season, scoring two points while averaging 14:16 TOI per night.

So needless to say, he was a fairly regular contributor.

Today’s transaction is clearly a move to give younger players a bigger opportunity on the team. Michalek was a veteran presence on a club filled with kids, but that apparently wasn’t enough to justify his roster spot any longer.


Analysis: Sharks' uneven start to season predictable

Analysis: Sharks' uneven start to season predictable

With just four periods left to go on their road trip, the Sharks were in pretty optimal shape. They had already won three of their first four games, and were sitting in the visiting dressing room in Pittsburgh in the second intermission with a 2-0 lead after their best period of the young season.

That’s when it came undone. 

The Penguins reeled off three straight third period goals to shock San Jose on Thursday night, and the Sharks concluded their trip by getting spanked by the Red Wings in a game that they were never really in on Saturday.

Still, it’s nothing to get alarmed about, and it was all too predictable that the Sharks might fade towards the end of the journey.

This year’s training camp, combined with a difficult road stretch so early in the season, has provided the kinds of hardships that aren’t typical in a normal season. The Sharks had a league-high five players in the World Cup of Hockey, including four on Team Canada and newcomer Mikkel Boedker on Team Europe. Those players didn’t even step on the practice ice in San Jose until Oct. 4, one week before the opener, and Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joe Pavelski all played in just a single preseason game.

The Sharks got to open at home on Oct. 12, and played well in beating the Kings, 2-1. They’ve held just one full practice since then on Oct. 13, before getting on a plane to Columbus the next day to begin a stretch of five games in eight days while trying to adjust to the three-hour time change.

Pretty rough.

Head coach Pete DeBoer knows he has some work to do with his group, but he subtlety pointed out that conditions have made things a bit more complicated than usual. He’s right. In fact, before the Sharks lost to the Red Wings, DeBoer was content with the way the Sharks had performed to that point.

“Considering the circumstances, five of six to start the season on the road, and the World Cup, and not a lot of practice time – I actually think our game is in a pretty good place, in my mind,” he said after the morning skate. “We obviously have some things still to clean up, but overall I’m not disappointed with how we’re playing. Just got to keep improving.”

The Red Wings, game, though, was a stinker, and an argument can be made that the Sharks should have practiced on Friday. The result against Detroit is obviously exhibit 1A of that. After all, their plane landed in Detroit from Pittsburgh at 12:03 a.m. according to the flight log, giving the players plenty of time to sleep in their hotel beds before the day off. But as he’s almost always done since he took over the Sharks, DeBoer preferred to let his players relax. It was a rare miscalculation.

When they resume practice Monday morning, the power play will likely be a focal point. The Sharks have seemingly given up as many shorthanded chances as they’ve had chances to score themselves while up a man. They are 3-for-20 on the season, including an empty net goal and another on a two-man advantage.

DeBoer, though, indicated he’s going to give that familiar top unit a chance to work out its issues. That’s the right move, as that group simply hasn’t had any time to work together in non-game situations for the reasons already mentioned.

“When you look at the history of the group, I don’t have any doubt they’re going to have success,” DeBoer said. “There’s no doubt it hasn’t started the way we wanted. The puck hasn’t gone in and we’re pressing a little bit now, but that will turn around.”

Along with buttoning up their overall game, the Sharks will now turn to establishing their home ice as an actual advantage this season. At 18-20-3 last year, they had the worst home record of any team that made the playoffs.

Their first game was encouraging in that they played a complete game from start to finish against the Kings, and the atmosphere was decidedly playoff-like. Considering San Jose was a much better 14-10 at home in the playoffs, there’s reason to believe they will be much better there this season in front of a fan base that has some renewed enthusiasm that was lacking this time last year.

When it’s a packed house, SAP Center is still one of the loudest and most intimidating buildings in the league.

“The first game was a little season preview hopefully of what the whole year is going to be like – the crowd, the atmosphere there,” Chris Tierney said. You really saw in the playoffs how cool that building can get and how much of an advantage it can be. Really looking forward to getting back home.”

Logan Couture said: “We haven’t played very well throughout our first six games, so we’ve got to find it here soon.”

Coming home, practicing, and acclimating themselves to a much more normal day-to-day routine again should provide a needed boost.