Hitch not surprised with lower seed success

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Hitch not surprised with lower seed success

ST. LOUIS The San Jose Sharks have plenty of company when it comes to lower seeds having series leads early in the first round.

The eighth-seeded Kings are up two-games-to-none on the first place Canucks, while the Flyers won their first two games on the road in Pittsburgh in two of the more unexpected developments in the first week of the postseason.

Ken Hitchcock, well, he isnt so surprised. Hitch is one of the better quotes in the league among head coaches (many would argue hes the most media-friendly in that department), and he elaborated on that subject on Saturday morning.

The Blues, who lost Game 1, 3-2, in double-overtime on Thursday, host the Sharks in Game 2 tonight.

The series is a race to four, not a race to two. I know theres teams down 2-0 going on the road, but to expect them not to play good hockey is wrong. I dont think theres an advantage playing at home right now like there was before.

It used to be, to be the eight seed everything had to go right. Now you look at eight seeds, and its like, three quarters of the season went wrong for them. I know when we were in Columbus we got the seven seed against Detroit in 2009, everything went right for four months to get to 92 points. You dont find that anymore. Thats just how good the teams are right now.

Hitchcock led the Blue Jackets to their only franchise playoff appearance in 2009.

His Blues, of course, finished tied for the second highest point total in the league (109) while the Sharks snuck in as the seventh seed by closing out the regular season with a four-game winning streak.

To me, there are nine teams in each conference that are so close that I think thats why you see these lower seeds going like hell now, because I honestly believe they think they can win the Cup. Youve got 16 teams that it isnt fake they honestly believe they can win the Cup. Youre going to see twists and turns, and teams going to be up 2-0 going home and it could be 2-2 by the time they go back for Game 5.

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

Sharks, Robinson parting ways after five seasons

After five seasons with the Sharks, Larry Robinson is leaving the organization.

Robinson, 65, spent the last three seasons as the club's director of player development. He served as an associate coach from 2012-14.

TSN in Montreal and the Montreal Gazette originally reported the news. The Sharks confirmed to NBC Sports California that Robinson's contract will be expiring.

According to the Gazette

Robinson’s contract with the Sharks expires on July 1, but agent Donnie Cape said Thursday that San Jose general manager Doug Wilson has given him permission to speak with other teams. Robinson lives in Bradenton, Fla., and the long travel distance to San Jose is one of big the reasons he’s looking for a new team to work for.

Robinson seemed to ponder retirement in 2014, but signed a three-year extension to remain in the Sharks' front office. He worked mostly from his home in Florida the past two seasons, making occasional trips to San Jose, including during training camp.

In the summer of 2015, Robinson underwent surgery for skin cancer.

Recognized as one of the best defensemen in NHL history, Robinson won six Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, and holds the NHL record for playing 20 straight seasons in the playoffs. A 10-time All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Robinson was the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1995-99, and the New Jersey Devils from 1999-2002 and again in 2005-06. He led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2000. Robinson has nine Stanley Cup rings as a player and coach.

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The Sharks did not renew the contract of pro scout Jason Rowe, who had been with the organization for the past nine seasons. Rowe focused on eastern NHL and AHL teams.

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

The Sharks officially announced the signing of defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year contract on Tuesday, as well as Swedish forward Filip Sandberg to a two-year contract.

Simek’s deal was reported on Monday and confirmed by NBC Sports California. The contract is valued at $925,000 for the 2017-18 season, a source confirmed. The 24-year-old defenseman spent the past five seasons in the Czech league, posting 24 points (11g, 13a) and 30 penalty minutes with a plus-18 rating last season. A left-handed shot, he is listed at five-foot-11 and 196 pounds on the IIHL website.

In 211 career games in the Czech league, he posted 91 points (37g, 54a) and a plus-51 rating.

"Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America."

Sandberg, 22, has 71 points (25g, 46a) in 204 career games in the Swedish league. Last season, he posted 25 points (8g, 17a) and a plus-17 rating in 52 games.

Sandberg is set to make $742,500 in 2017-18 and $792,500 in 2018-19, a source confirmed.

The five-foot-nine, 180-pound Stockholm native also competed in the World Jr. Championships in 2013 and 2014, helping Sweden win silver both years.

"Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space," Wilson said. "He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players. We are excited for him to join our organization."

The contracts for Simek and Forsberg are two-way deals, allowing them to play for the AHL Barracuda next season.