SAN JOSE – Joining a new team after eight seasons in another organization is surely tricky. That’s what Mikkel Boedker signed up for when he joined the Sharks on a four-year, $16 contract in the offseason.
And while both he and coach Pete DeBoer indicated on Monday that there is still a learning process for the 26-year-old winger, the Sharks coach wasn’t satisfied with the way Boedker was competing in the most recent game on Saturday, a 3-2 loss to the Ducks. It’s why Boedker stayed planted on the bench for the entire third period while the Sharks were seeking a tying goal that never came.
“I would hope he’s pissed off. It’s always a last resort as a coach,” DeBoer said, when asked how he’d like to see Boedker react to the benching.
“You run through some different ways to try and get the player going, so to speak. And, overall, I've got to be honest with you – and this is the same conversation I’ve had with him – I don’t care about goals or points. It’s if the compete [that] starts to slip, I have a problem. I just felt that we had at that point in the game [Kevin] Labanc was moving and had a good edge to his game, and deserved to play. I’m sure [Boedker will] bounce back.”
Boedker said on Monday that DeBoer’s message to him is to “work through it,” and apparently he’ll be back in the lineup on Tuesday against the Coyotes. During practice, he skated on the left wing with center Chris Tierney and rookie Labanc on the other side.
In 22 games with the Sharks, Boedker surely expected to have more than two goals and no assists. It’s safe to say the organization did, too, starting him on the second line with Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi.
That lack of production has him squeezing the stick a little harder lately, such as one instance against the Islanders on Friday, when he fumbled a puck at the blue line on what would have been a breakaway opportunity.
“Everybody has expectations, obviously,” Boedker said. “It’s always hard to keep confidence up when you don’t score, don’t do that well. You’ve got to continue to grind at it and continue to try and make good plays, and just play your game.”
DeBoer is trying to relay to Boedker that he shouldn’t be focused on the scoresheet, but can understand why there might be some frustration.
“There’s no doubt [he’s squeezing his stick]. He’s a point producer, and his contract says he should be producing points. That’s how those guys judge themselves,” DeBoer said.
“You’ve got to get out of that mindset. This is about winning games, and that stuff will follow. It’s not an easy spot to be in where he’s at, but you’ve got to battle through.”