Clowe has no plans to play for Bulls ... yet


Clowe has no plans to play for Bulls ... yet

DALY CITY Sharks forward Ryane Clowe has done everything in his power to stay active during the NHL lockout, which is now in its eighth week.

Hes been to Vail, Colorado, to train and play with a group that included and was organized by Penguins star Sidney Crosby. Later, that assemblage changed locales and convened in Dallas, Texas for some more intense practices and scrimmages. In between, Clowe has been at Sharks Ice, skating with the few remaining Sharks teammates of his that are still within driving distance as opposed to some far-off country.

Now, hes an official member of the ECHLs San Francisco Bulls, but wont suit up for either of their games this weekend at the Cow Palace. Instead, hes practicing with the first-year squad, hoping to stay in tip-top shape should the NHL and its players association strike a deal for a shortened season.

RELATED: Clowe officially signs with Bulls

Just being in the practices is nice, getting a good team and organized skate is something youre looking for, Clowe said on Thursday. Skating on your own kind of gets old, so Im happy they let me come up.

Still, Clowe said, I honestly cant say that I hope to play in two weeks, or that I have a date. I just really have no plans on playing.

Its not out of the question at some point, though. While the league and players association have met for three straight days, theres still a very real chance that talks could break down again, putting the season in jeopardy. Clowe is optimistic that the lockout will end shortly, but also mentioned he never expected the NHL to cancel the Winter Classic last Friday, so his feelings may not be much of a barometer.

NEWS: More talks scheduled for Friday

Both sides are showing they want to get something done when youre hammering it out like that, Clowe said of the meetings, which will resume on Friday in New York. But, anything can turn in those meetings. When it comes down to the main details, like guys getting their guaranteed contracts and the whole make whole thing, when it comes down to those things, thats where youve got to make some ground.

Clowe could use the opportunity with the Bulls to get back into game shape, if a shortened NHL season becomes more likely over the next few days or weeks.

If things start to progress, it might be an opportunity where I could think about playing, because you want to get a couple games in before you get back. That was just an option that I thought about, nothing serious, but Id probably lean more that way if it goes long.

Clowes reasons for not playing just yet are numerous, not the least of which is the 30-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Considering his aggressive nature, in-your-face style of play, a concussion suffered last season, and the possibility that a hulking, low-level minor leaguer might want to target an established NHL forward, and Clowe may be better served watching from the press box.

Or, he could be behind the bench to help out the coaching staff, which includes Bulls owner, president and head coach Pat Curcio.

Its like having another coach, another player and another captain, Curcio said. I cant even tell you how much we like having him around. A guy to lean on, talk to hes been awesome. What hes done for the players already, its leadership you just cant find at this level, so its great.

As Curcio alluded to, Clowe can help the Bulls as much as theyre helping him. One of the veteran leaders in the Sharks locker room, Clowe is more than willing to mentor the young players on the Bulls in any way he can.

The guys are great. Theyre like sponges and like to learn. They are hard workers, and it seems like a good team vibe here. I like being around the guys, Clowe said.

Ive told the guys, ask me if youve got any questions and Ill try to help out. I love to see young guys who want to learn, its great to see.

Still, Clowe would preferably be back in his black and teal sweater, earning what was supposed to be the final year of a four-year, 14.5 million contract. Hes closely monitoring this weeks collective bargaining talks, which could eventually lead to an agreement and even a 60-70 game NHL season. In the last three days, representatives from the NHL and NHLPA have been in the same room for about 18 hours, after not meeting at all since Oct. 18.

Any time you lock two people in a room to try and hammer it out for close to 20 hours, that means guys are bouncing stuff back and forth and people are listening and ears are open, Clowe said. Thats a lot better than what was going on before that.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

* * *

Joe Thornton had successful surgery on his left knee on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned, and according to a team statement released later on Tuesday he is expected to "make a complete recovery and be ready for the start of the 2017-18 season." 

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The team declined to give any details about the surgery in its statement, including who performed it and where it was done. 

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.