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Sharks feeling messy sense of deja vu


Sharks feeling messy sense of deja vu

The Sharks were left with a messy sense of deja vu in the wake of Tuesday night’s loss to the Arizona Coyotes, as disparate narratives of the past five seasons rolled into one.

For one, they once again lost to the Coyotes despite a big shot advantage. Including last night, Arizona has a league-leading *six* wins against San Jose when allowing 40 or more shots and taking less than 30 since the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Naturally, they also have more all-time wins against the Sharks under those parameters (10) than any other franchise.

Joe Thornton was also out with another knee injury, just as he was down the stretch last season. San Jose dropped to 4-5-1 on the year without Thornton, and 6-6-1 over the last two.

Of course, those three games last season came without Thornton and Logan Couture, and the Sharks have only been down one top-six forward during Thornton’s recovery this season. At least until Tuesday.

Specifically, until Tomas Hertl left with an injury of his own in the first period. Hertl’s missed nearly a full regular season’s worth of games (77) because of various injuries to his right knee, excluding the four he missed in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

He didn’t appear to injure his knee against Arizona, but his absence was felt just the same. The power play, which had especially improved since Hertl’s move to the top unit, failed to convert on all three of its opportunities after the Czech forward left the game with just 18 seconds remaining in the first period.

Head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters Wednesday morning that Hertl’s doubtful to play on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks, but that the injury “isn’t as serious as it probably could have been.”

Absence, however short-term, only makes the heart grow fonder, and Hertl’s left the Sharks fondest for the most surprising narrative return of all: Brent Burns skating as a forward, a position he has not played since 2014.  

DeBoer told reporters after the loss he wanted to spark the team, and it’s hard to blame him for playing that card. After all, Burns scored 68 points in 92 games in two seasons up front, and scored five-on-five points at a higher rate than many elite wingers at the time.

But that was four years ago, and Burns won a Norris Trophy in the intervening years. He’s struggled in his own zone this season, but recently started to find a defensive groove playing alongside rookie defenseman Joakim Ryan.

There are pockets of the fanbase that never wanted Burns to move back in the first place, and they may finally get their wish on Thursday, depending on Hertl’s status. They shouldn’t get their hopes up beyond that, however, as DeBoer said Wednesday that the Sharks are “way, way past” considering moving Burns to forward full-time.

Yet still, that messy deja vu persists, however temporarily. As San Jose tries to look forward, the present circumstances feel far more like it’s looking back.

Giants pay tribute to Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Cactus League opener


Giants pay tribute to Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Cactus League opener

SCOTTSDALE — As Ty Blach prepared to kick off the Cactus League season on Friday morning, some fans asked him about the hat the Giants were wearing. Blach was happy to spread the word.

The Giants joined the rest of Major League Baseball in wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High caps on the first day of the exhibition season. Teams were given the option of wearing the caps -- which were black and had a red “SD” logo -- during the game, and the Giants unanimously took part. For Blach, who grew up about 20 miles from Columbine High, the tribute was a special one. 

“It’s such a tragedy what happened down there,” Blach said of the campus shooting in South Florida that left 17 dead earlier this month. “It’s hard on a lot of people. We’re not geographically in Florida but it hits home for everybody.”

Blach was eight years old at the time of the Columbine shooting and said his school went into lockdown. 

“It was horrible,” he said. “It’s something that stayed close to home for me. I see all these shootings and it’s tough.”

The pitcher who followed Blach on the mound Friday also appreciated MLB’s decision and the moment of silence before the first pitch. Andrew Suarez, a lefty from the Miami area, said he played summer ball a few years ago with a kid who went to Stoneman Douglas. 

“Everyone was happy about it,” he said of the caps. “I was pretty happy about it. I’m from South Florida and I know a kid from there. I was glad to wear it and represent them.”

New Era produced more than 2,500 caps so that players, coaches, umpires and team employees could represent Stoneman Douglas on Friday. Clubs were encouraged to have the caps signed and auctioned off to raise funds to assist the victims and families of the February 14 shooting. An authenticator was in the clubhouse during Friday's game to help with the process. 

“Major League Baseball is proud to see our Clubs supporting the Parkland community and the students of Stoneman Douglas in a way that is both meaningful and natural to our sport,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “The idea began with several of our Grapefruit League Clubs and quickly turned into a league-wide effort. We hope this demonstration by our teams, players, coaches and umpires helps contribute to the healing process of everyone affected by this horrible tragedy.”

Source: 49ers never made trade offer for Marcus Peters


Source: 49ers never made trade offer for Marcus Peters

The 49ers are interested in a cornerback.

The 49ers are interested in any and all cornerbacks.

When the Kansas City Chiefs began shopping cornerback Marcus Peters, the 49ers did all the investigation one would expect from a team with a specific and urgent need at the position.

However, the 49ers did not make an offer to the Chiefs, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday. The Los Angeles Rams and Chiefs reportedly agreed on a deal that will become official at the beginning of the new league year on March 14.

Peters, 25, for all his talent and production, comes with reasons to make Kansas City, a team for which he played three seasons, want to ship him to another location. Peters was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. He has earned trips to the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons while producing 19 interceptions and six forced fumbles in 45 games.

Peters came into the NFL with question marks after Washington coach Chris Peterson kicked him off the team during his junior season in college. Last season, Kansas City coach Andy Reid suspended Peters for a game late in the season as the Chiefs were pursuing a playoff spot.

One thing is certain this offseason: The 49ers will be connected with every cornerback on the market, including soon-to-be Rams free agent Trumaine Johnson.

Johnson, 28, figures to be one of the more attractive on the market during the early negotiating period of March 12-14. Johnson (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) is a six-year veteran who has recorded 18 interceptions.

The 49ers recently visited with veteran cornerback Vontae Davis, whom the Indianapolis Colts released last season. Davis is coming off groin surgery.

Cornerback arguably likely ranks as the 49ers’ biggest need this offseason. The club feels good about the progress of Ahkello Witherspoon, who began his rookie season inactive for the first four games. Witherspoon quickly developed into the team’s best cornerback.

The 49ers deemed cornerback Rashard Robinson was a disappointment on and off the field, and he was traded to the New York Jets. Dontae Johnson started all 16 games at right cornerback, but his play took a downward turn late in the season.

The 49ers are not expected to place a priority on re-signing Johnson as a free agent. K'Waun Williams returns as the 49ers' starting nickel back, but he is not considered an option to start at cornerback.

The other 49ers cornerbacks under contract for the 2018 season are Greg Mabin, Tyvis Powell and Channing Stribling.