Sharks players hope NHL participates in 2018 Olympics

Sharks players hope NHL participates in 2018 Olympics

There is exactly one year and one day before the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and still there is no word on whether NHL players will be participating on that world stage.

If the season does shut down for the Olympics in 2018, as it has every four years since the Nagano games in 1998, there will undoubtedly be some Sharks that will play for their respective countries. Several have participated in the games before, including Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and perhaps some others would be in line for their first Olympics.

The consensus among some of them polled is that they think the NHL players belong in the games, a message echoed consistently by other players throughout the league. 

“Yeah, I think for our sport and everything, for the players, it’s a cool event [and] special,” said Pavelski, who served as captain of Team USA in the World Cup last September. “It means a lot. Players want to go.”

Couture said: “It would be weird without the NHL players there, obviously. I grew up watching NHL players playing in it, so for me, it would be weird to not see some NHL guys there.”

Marleau won a pair of gold medals with Team Canada, including the most recent games in 2014 in Sochi.

“It’s hard to imagine [players not going] now that we’ve been going there for awhile,” Marleau said. “You want the best playing against the best, and you need NHL players in order to do that.”

From the league’s perspective, though, the indications are it would be just fine skipping the games this time around.

At the All-Star Game less than two weeks ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman questioned whether it’s worth it for the NHL to shut down in the second half of the season, thereby forcing another condensed schedule and risking injuries to players whose NHL teams are in the midst of a playoff push. The Islanders’ John Tavares, for example, missed the rest of the season after hurting his knee in an Olympic quarterfinal game in 2014.

"The focus from the club standpoint is, what does the disruption to our season mean and how do we deal with it and how problematic has it become?” Bettman said, via

"It's particularly been highlighted this year with some dissatisfaction with the schedule, which was a combination of, to some extent, the [World Cup in September] and, to some extent, the five-day [bye weeks] that the Players' Association insisted on. So the clubs are very concerned about the competitiveness of our season, the health and well-being of our players, whether or not there is fatigue. From our standpoint, we are very focused on the disruption to the NHL season."

Vlasic – never one to hold back his opinion when it comes to league matters – wondered why it’s acceptable for the NHL teams to risk injury and have a condensed schedule for a league-generated tournament like the World Cup, but not for the Olympics, of which there is really no financial benefit to the NHL other than exposure.

“Condensed schedule, we had it this year because of the World Cup. So, it’s OK for the World Cup and not the Olympics?” Vlasic asked.

“We’re hockey players that play in the NHL, but as the best athletes [we] should have the right to go to the Olympics. I was fortunate enough to experience it once, and would love to go again. If guys that haven’t experienced it get a chance to go, they should. We should. Hopefully, they reach an agreement.”

On Wednesday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that he believes the drop dead date for a final Olympic decision is “still likely a full month away.”

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night

Kane leads Sharks to critical win on four-goal night


CALGARY, Alberta -- Evander Kane scored four goals to lead the San Jose Sharks past the Calgary Flames 7-4 on Friday night.

Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist for the Sharks, who have won three straight and four of five. Kevin Lebanc and Eric Fehr also scored, and Martin Jones made 30 saves.

It was the first NHL hat trick for Kane, acquired from Buffalo just before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Micheal Ferland had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who are four points out of a playoff spot. Troy BrouwerMark Jankowski and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary.

Three nights after stopping all 28 shots he faced against the Oilers, Calgary goalie Mike Smith had a rough outing as he made just 14 saves before being replaced by David Rittich early in the third period. Rittich went on to stop all seven shots he faced in a relief appearance.

The Sharks opened the scoring six minutes into the first period when Kane's wrist shot beat Smith to the glove side.

The Flames pulled even at 16:42 when Brouwer chipped a pass from Curtis Lazar into the top corner behind Jones. Matt Stajan stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon behind the San Jose net to get the play started.

Jankowski took a pass from linemate Garnet Hathaway and wired a shot to the top corner, glove side behind Jones to put Calgary up 2-1 at 2:10 of the second period.

Kane then redirected Dillon's point shot past Smith at 6:29 before Gaudreau cut into the slot and snapped a shot past Jones at 10:16 to put Calgary back up by a goal.

That lead lasted just 1:26 as Lebanc fired a shot from a sharp angle into the top corner past Smith to pull the Sharks into a 3-all tie.

Kane completed his hat trick at 16:32 when he swatted in his own rebound before Hertl poked the puck through Smith's legs with 1:58 remaining before the second intermission.

The Sharks added an insurance goal 62 seconds into the third when Kane redirected a pass from Joe Pavelski past Smith.

Ferland backhanded a shot past Jones to pull Calgary within two goals with 5:35 left in regulation and Rittich on the bench for an extra attacker. Fehr rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal 1:37 later.

NOTES: Jankowski suited up for the Flames after sitting out Tuesday's 1-0 win over Edmonton. Fellow forward Kris Versteeg returned to Calgary's lineup after missing the past 49 games with a hip injury. ... Gaudreau extended his point streak to six games (three goals, five assists).


Sharks: At the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Flames: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

Jones set for big workload down the stretch


Jones set for big workload down the stretch

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones is on pace for the lightest overall workload of his career as a starter. After starting 65 games in his first two seasons in San Jose, Jones can only play a maximum of 62 if he appears in each of the team's 12 remaining games. 

Yet simultaneously, he is also on pace for the largest stretch-run workload of his career. Jones will make his 10th straight start, and 51st overall, Friday night in Calgary. 

Friday will also mark his eighth consecutive start since the trade deadline. Over the last two seasons, Jones made 13 and 14 starts, respectively, from the deadline onwards. 

It's easy to envision Jones far surpassing that workload. Entering Mar. 16 each of the last two years, the Sharks held, respectively, 10-point and 18-point leads over the West's ninth-place team, the closest among the squads on the outside looking in at the postseason. As a result, James Reimer and Aaron Dell spelled Jones for eight and seven starts, respectively, to keep him rested ahead of the postseason. 

This year, San Jose's only three points clear of the ninth-place Anaheim Ducks. There's also only one back-to-back remaining on the post-deadline schedule, compared to five in 2016-17 and two in 2015-16, and 10 of the next 12 games are against teams within four points of a playoff spot. 

Taking all of that into consideration, Jones should pretty easily exceed the mark of 14 post-trade deadline starts he set last season and ultimately start more than 60 games for the third consecutive season, barring injury. 

Should the Sharks clinch a playoff spot, it will be fair to wonder what kind of effect Jones' stretch-run starts will have on his postseason performance. Jones posted a .923 save percentage in San Jose's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and a .935 save percentage in the first round last year after receiving a good amount of time off. 

But the Sharks have to get there first, and it's understandable they will rely on Jones in order to do so. The recently-extended Aaron Dell remains one of the league's better backups, but has come a bit back down to earth this season (.914 save percentage) after earning the role last year (.931). 

Jones, for his part, has handled the increased workload well so far, winning five of nine games and posting a .922 save percentage. How well handles his 10th consecutive start, and any that follow, will have a profound impact on the Sharks' hopes of making the playoffs.