Sharks notes: Marleau frustrated; Couture amazes

927209.jpg

Sharks notes: Marleau frustrated; Couture amazes

Of all the adjectives used to describe Sharks franchise icon Patrick Marleau over the years, outspoken has rarely, if ever, been one of them.

Thats changed in recent days, though, as Marleau has become a vocal critical of the leagues tactics when it comes to the current labor impasse. It began when I spoke with him myself on Thursday at Sharks Ice and he bluntly stated, If the owners cared about the game, we would be playing. (He later clarified that when he refers to the owners, hes talking about what he believes is a small group of hard-liners, of which Gary Bettman needs just eight to veto any CBA proposal).

Marleau continued to voice his disapproval in a text message sent to Josh Rimer of NextSportsStar.com (via ProHockeyTalk.com) on Saturday.

The league had these games canceled already in the summer. They are just releasing that info now, Marleau said, referring to the NHL cancelling the schedule through November.

Its not hard to see why Marleau might jump to that conclusion. The NHLs opening CBA proposal was an early signal of the leagues draconian approach, and its more recent refusal to meet with the players association in the days leading up to their own Oct. 25 deadline to save a full season was peculiar.

Many have suggested that NHL ownership is following the same guidelines used by NBA owners around this time last year. There were several perceived peaks and valleys during those negotiations, which ended with ownership getting a larger percentage of profits as well as a condensed 66-game season starting on Christmas Day.

So, Marleau could be on to something.

For now, though, the enigmatic forward is one of a few Sharks still in the Bay Area. That could change shortly, though, as he told CSNCalifornia.com on Thursday that hes spoken to his agent about possibly going abroad.

Its definitely an option, he said.

Couture gets fancy

Speaking of overseas, Sharks stars Logan Couture and Joe Thornton went head-to-head in Switzerland for the second time over the weekend, with Coutures first-place Geneve-Servette team coming away with a 5-4 win over Thorntons HC Davos squad.

In a much-tweeted highlight (courtesy of Puck Daddy), Couture managed to score his fifth goal of the season with an incredible between-the-legs shot. He also has 11 assists on the year, including two in the game against Davos, for a total of 16 points in 12 games.

Thornton had one assist in the loss, and has four goals and nine assists for 13 points in 15 games.

Champs for Charity a success

Adam Burish is still waiting for the chance to don a Sharks jersey after signing with San Jose in the offseason, but hes making the most of his time off.

Burish, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, helped put together a reunion of that team to benefit local Chicago charities, and it was a resounding success. On Saturday at Allstate Arena, home of the AHLs Chicago Wolves, the game brought in more than 323,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.

The biggest thing for me was all these guys deciding to participate. Guys I won a championship with showed up, guys Ive played against showed up. To me, thats what meant a lot, Burish told CSNChicago.com. They were so giving with their time, doing whatever they could to help, because it wasnt easy. I hope everyone had fun, because I did.

The vocal crowd, presumably desperate for the lockout to end, exceeded 12,000.

It brings you right back to the regular season and playoffs. And its all for a great cause, Patrick Sharp said. Whenever you score a goal you get a good feeling. You play to win and be a part of a team. We were messing around out there but we were still playing hockey. There were a lot of antics going on but it was fun to be a part of a game again.

There were more than just Blackhawks that suited up. Opponents of the former champs included Bobby Ryan, Jordan Staal and Ryan Suter.

Worcester update

After a slow start in which they failed to win any of their first four games, the Worcester Sharks collected four of a possible six points over the weekend. Goaltender Alex Stalock was in net for wins on Friday and Sunday, stopping 51 of 54 shots total in the two games.

A quick look at the stats shows Tim Kennedy leading the Worcester offense with three goals and five assists for eight points, while Sebastian Stalberg (4g, 2a) and Bracken Kearns (1g, 5a) have six points apiece.

James Sheppard, perhaps the most intriguing player on Worcesters roster, has cooled off. After recording three points in the first two games, he has just one assist in the last five.

The Sharks (2-4-0-1, 5 pts.) are in fourth place in the five-team Atlantic Division.

Coyle impressing in AHL

In other minor league news, former Sharks first round pick Charlie Coyle is impressing for Minnesotas farm team in Houston. Coyle was part of the package the Sharks sent to the Wild in order to acquire defenseman Brent Burns.

Coyle, drafted 28th overall by San Jose in 2010, leads all rookie forwards in the AHL with five goals, prompting this tweet from Wild beat writer Michael Russo. He could very well be a part of the Wilds roster if the NHL and NHLPA get their act together to salvage a season.

Minnesotas roster already has a number of former Sharks, including Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell, the latter of whom signed there this past offseason.

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

braun-justin-sharks-teal.jpg
AP

Mailbag: Which Sharks player is most likely to be traded?

No one asked, but I’m going to begin this week’s mailbag with my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final – Preds in six. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to a few of your questions…

Most likely to be moved this off-season? (Nik @niknisj25)

If the Sharks do make a move – and I’ve argued here that I think it may be time for a shakeup – they’ll surely be looking for someone up front to boost the offense. In that case, they’d likely have to sacrifice a defenseman or two.

The Sharks defense is the strength of the organization at the moment, as they had one of the best one-through-seven groups in the NHL this season. But it’s also an expensive one. The Sharks have nearly $27 million committed to their top seven defensemen next season, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is due for a hefty raise beginning in 2018-19.

One name that could be intriguing to other teams is Justin Braun. The 30-year-old has been a part of the Sharks’ top shut down pair with Vlasic for several seasons now, and is signed for the next three years at a reasonable $3.8 million cap hit. The Sharks could potentially move him for offensive help, and slot in a guy like David Schlemko alongside Vlasic, while finally giving Dylan DeMelo a chance to play on a nightly basis on the third pair. A Vlasic-Schlemko pair could be more offensive than Vlasic-Braun, too, because as adept as they were at keeping the puck out of their own net, the Sharks didn’t get many goals from their defenders outside of Burns.

Of course, the upcoming expansion draft all but assures that nothing will happen until Las Vegas selects its team on June 21. If the Sharks lose a defenseman to the Golden Knights, they’ll be more reluctant to move another one. Still, with guys like Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, Julius Bergman, Mirco Mueller and now Radim Simek in the pipeline, the club might be able to handle a couple departures.

How do we fix the power play next season? Bring in a coach that could help us? Change up the lines, or style of play? (adam smith @kickback408)

One thing that won’t be happening is a new coach, as Doug Wilson recently confirmed that Steve Spott would be back alongside Pete DeBoer. Bob Boughner could move on if he gets hired as a head coach elsewhere, but Boughner’s focus is the team’s defense and penalty kill.

Obviously, the future of the power play depends on who is on the roster, beginning with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Both saw their power play production dip this season.

Thornton went from 29 power play points in 2015-16 to 19 this season (he had eight power play goals in 2015-16, and just one this season). Marleau saw a decline from 25 power play points in 2015-16 to 16 last season. Even if both return, it may be time to try other bodies on the top unit.

Do you see Meier, Labanc and/or Sorensen having a breakout season next year? Or anyone else on the Barracuda? (Colin Dunn @ColinDunnACA)

Someone better had, because this team needs to start getting younger, and soon. One of the bigger disappointments of the 2016-17 season is that none of them apparently showed the coaching staff that they were prepared to play on a nightly basis at the NHL level.

Timo Meier and Marcus Sorensen, I would surmise, are at the top of the depth chart as far as forwards go. Their line in the playoffs with center Chris Tierney was the Sharks’ best through the early part of the series with Edmonton. As for Kevin Labanc, I think he’s fallen a bit since he had a brief run of success for the Sharks in December.

While the Sharks did a good job stockpiling some young players through the 2013-15 drafts, they’ve traded away a number of picks in recent years. In last year’s draft they didn’t have a first or third round pick; this year they don’t have any picks in the second, third or fourth rounds; and in 2018 they are already without their second and third round picks. 

It’s great to accumulate young players, but at some point they have to break through. Now is the time.

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 that Robinson's contract would be expiring, and general manager Doug Wilson told NBC Sports California that the divorce was amicable, and "because of geography." Robinson lives in Florida.

According to the Montreal 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.

* * *

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.