SAN JOSE – The four Sharks Olympians will have a little bit of time to kill in the City of Brotherly Love this week.
Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Antti Niemi will all board a flight to Philadelphia from Sochi and arrive there some time after midnight on Monday morning. They will have Monday and Tuesday off before re-joining their Sharks teammates for practice on Wednesday on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Sharks play the Flyers on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center, in the first of 23 regular season games remaining.
Todd McLellan said: “It saves us three hours of time zone. … We’ll see how they are on Wednesday, and then away we go.”
All three Sharks skaters played the maximum of six games in the Olympics, while goaltender Niemi did not see any game action for Finland, with Tuukka Rask and Kari Lehtonen ahead of him on the depth chart for the bronze medal-winners. Marleau and Vlasic will bring home a gold medal from Team Canada's dominant performance.
McLellan was asked if he would try and limit the minutes of the guys who did not get the benefit of an Olympic break.
“The way those guys are wired, if they’re dressed and they are playing 14 [minutes], they may as well play 19 because they’re going to want to go. It’s the off days, it’s the days where we’re not playing. Can we find them some rest time? Again, knowing those [three], they’re going to want to rest but they’re also going to want to maintain their game. It’s a catch-22.”
The head coach also suggested he expects his players, and the others around the NHL that went to Sochi, to be ready to compete at a high level when the season resumes.
“When you go, you know you’re going to expend some energy and excitement and all that type of stuff, but part of the deal is you’re ready to come back and play and compete,” McLellan said. “They will be.”