Sharks get first look at Kings Richards


Sharks get first look at Kings Richards

SAN JOSE The Los Angeles Kings made arguably the biggest single acquisition this summer, when they landed Mike Richards in a blockbuster trade. L.A. sent highly regarded prospect Brayden Schenn, along with forward Wayne Simmonds and a draft pick, to Philadelphia in exchange for the player who was the Flyers captain at the time.

Tonight, the Sharks will get their first look at Richards in a Kings sweater. Along with Anze Kopitar, he provides L.A. with a superb one-two punch at center.

Hes a great passer, and obviously he can play a physical game, too, said Colin White, who has the most experience of anyone on the Sharks roster playing against Richards, as a long-time member of the New Jersey Devils. Hes a great player. He makes people around him better, and calms the play down. He knows when to slow it down and speed it up.

Even though he played on the East Coast for the first six years of his career, a couple of Sharks stars are pretty familiar with Richards from the Olympics. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were teammates of Richards when they won gold together at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Thornton, especially, was surprised when Richards was dealt from Philadelphia.

I thought he did a great job in Philly, said Thornton. When I saw that trade, I was kind of like, Wow. They traded Mike Richards? I was kind of surprised.

Thornton has something in common with Richards. Both were named captains of their respective teams when they were just 23 years old, and both were scrutinized, either fairly or unfairly, for not living up to the expectations of wearing the C.

Thornton was asked if it was harder for a young guy like Richards to be a captain in a hockey-crazed town, as he was.

I dont think so. He has a pretty good personality where nothing fazed him, from what I saw at the Olympics, said Thornton. I think being a captain in a good hockey town wouldnt affect him at all.

Regardless, Richards is now on the other side of the country, trying to help the Kings unseat the Sharks as reigning Pacific Division champs. Hes off to a good start, with 10 points (2g, 8a) in his first 13 games, tying him with Justin Williams for second on the team.

Kings head coach Terry Murray thinks Richards is adjusting well to the West Coast and to his new team.

Its always a difficult move for a player of that caliber, and he was an impact player with the Flyers, said Murray. Now, you join a new hockey club, and its an emotional roller coaster you have to go through from the time that happens.

"But, his adjustment has been good. Hes settling in every day. I think hes really becoming a confident player with the L.A. Kings and hes having a big contribution to our hockey club now.

Richards himself admitted to not knowing a whole lot about the rivalry, but is looking forward to his first Sharks-Kings matchup.

When you have a divisional game and play each other this many times, with two good teams, it obviously becomes a rivalry. Im looking forward to getting my feet wet tonight, he said.

And, as for playing in HP Pavilion? Hes a little used to hostile environments when he was still in the highly competitive Atlantic Division.

Its a tough building to play in, and from what Ive heard it amps up that much more. I dont think its going to be any difference to what Im used to playing in Pittsburgh and New York, but its going to be nice just to get in this building to see what its all about, he said.

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.