Signs point to Thornton's return for Game 3 of Sharks-Oilers

Signs point to Thornton's return for Game 3 of Sharks-Oilers

SAN JOSE – There appears to be some confusion on just who makes the final call on Joe Thornton’s playing status for Sunday’s pivotal Game 3 between the Sharks and Oilers at SAP Center.

Coach Pete DeBoer said it’s Thornton’s decision, while Thornton said it’s DeBoer’s decision. Or, maybe it’s the training staff’s decision, according to the longtime centerman.

Regardless, signs are pointing towards Thornton playing for the first time since he hurt his left knee on April 2. Thornton went through what was his normal late-season game day routine on Sunday morning, skating for about 15 minutes before most of his teammates went on the ice for the optional skate.

That was much different than on Friday in Edmonton, when Thornton stayed on the ice for over an hour with the scratched players before missing his second straight playoff game and fifth straight overall.

“After yesterday with the day off, wanted something light,” Thornton said. “Just kind of feel a little bit fresher today. Hopefully it responds good and I’ll be able to play tonight.”

DeBoer said: “He’s a game-time decision. If he’s taking warm-up that’s another step, and we’ll see how he feels when he gets out there.”

While the Sharks have missed Thornton on the ice in games one and two, they’ve likely missed his emotion on the bench, too. On Sunday morning, captain Joe Pavelski pointed to the Sharks’ compete level not being high enough in Game 2, a 2-0 loss.

“Just lost too many battles,” Pavelski said.

DeBoer had an interesting take when asked about what Thornton brings to the Sharks’ bench.

“It’s old school accountability with Joe. It’s black and white. He came up in an era and at a time and around people who weren’t worried about hurting feelings. You said what needed to be said,” DeBoer said. 

“That’s not always the case now in modern dressing rooms and with modern athletes. He’s a great resource for us, because there’s no greater pressure than peer pressure, especially from a Hall of Fame guy like that.”

Although the Sharks power play during the regular season was generally poor, finishing 25th in the NHL, it reached a nadir in Game 2 without one of the game’s best all-time passers. San Jose went 0-for-6, allowing two shorthanded goals and actually getting outshot by Edmonton, 6-5.

Five-on-five play wasn’t much better, as the Sharks managed just 11 even strength shots.

“We miss him everywhere,” DeBoer said. “I think you can’t understate his importance to our group.” 

Marleau shows off his Maple Leafs colors at Sharks' practice facility


Marleau shows off his Maple Leafs colors at Sharks' practice facility

There was a dash of blue among the teal and white sweaters at the Sharks captain’s ice session on Wednesday.

Patrick Marleau, who signed a three-year, $16.75 million deal with Toronto in the offseason, was among the dozen or so skaters that were on the ice at the Sharks’ practice facility with training camp a little more than three weeks away. The 37-year-old was dressed head to toe in his bright blue Maple Leafs attire, likely a shocking sight for longtime Sharks fans that saw in a San Jose sweater for the first 19 seasons of his career.

It’s not uncommon for the Sharks, or other teams, to allow players from other teams to utilize their local practice facilities before training camp begins.

Among Sharks skaters also taking part in the skate were Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Joonas Donskoi, Aaron Dell, Ryan Carpenter and Kevin Labanc. 

Thornton, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery on his ACL and MCL, looked to be moving well. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract extension with the Sharks in the offseason.

The Sharks will hold their first on-ice training camp session on Friday, Sep. 15.

Marleau makes his first appearance as a visiting player at SAP Center on Oct. 30.

Five months after taking puck to face, Sharks' Logan Couture 'still pretty sore'


Five months after taking puck to face, Sharks' Logan Couture 'still pretty sore'

Nearly five months after taking a puck to the mouth that resulted in major damage, Logan Couture is still dealing with the aftereffects of his surgically repaired mouth, which now features several false teeth.

Appearing on the NHL Network this week, Couture was asked how he’s feeling with less than one month to go before the Sharks open training camp on Sep. 14.

“There’s good days and bad days,” Couture said. “My bottom teeth are still my real teeth. They’ve tried to keep them so I don’t lose them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, they’re still pretty sore. My top teeth are all fake now – my front six, I think. So, it’s different. It just feels different in my mouth. 

“But everything else with my face and all that is healed. I’m lucky that it’s an injury that didn’t affect my training, and hopefully won’t affect me going forward.”

Couture was injured on March 25 in Nashville. He was set up just outside the crease in the offensive zone when a Brent Burns point shot hit a stick before squarely battering the now 28-year-old’s mouth.

After missing the final seven games of the regular season, Couture returned for the Sharks’ playoff opener. He managed to play in all six games of the first round loss, posting two goals and one assist for three points, although he struggled at times and was seemingly targeted by the Oilers.

Couture is currently in his hometown of London, Ontario where he’s staging a casino event for brain research. Fellow Sharks Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo will take part, as will other NHL stars like the Kings’ Drew Doughty.