SAN JOSE – Joe Thornton and Logan Couture were both at the Sharks’ practice facility on Tuesday morning. When they are ready to get back on the ice, however, remains unclear.
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer termed his top two centers as day-to-day, although there was some ambiguity as to when they might be able to play again. Couture has missed the last four games after taking a puck to the face, while Thornton hurt his left knee on Sunday in Vancouver.
“I expect both of them will be back at some point,” DeBoer said. “Until then, I’m going to call it day-to-day. I don’t have a time frame on it. That’s it.”
When asked if that means this season, or at some point during a playoff series, he simply said, “yes.”
Is it safe to assume neither will play in any of the final three regular season games?
“I’m not getting into the semantics,” DeBoer said. “The statement is the statement. I expect them both back. I don’t have a time frame. Until then, we’ll call it day-to-day. That could be Saturday, it could be a month from Saturday.”
Since the Sharks could potentially be eliminated from the postseason a month from Saturday, DeBoer was asked to then clarify that statement.
“I said I expect them both back. Until they get back, we’re going to term them day-to-day, and I don’t have a time frame on that. So, you guys take that however you want it. It’s not getting any clearer than that. That’s as clear as it gets.”
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Couture spoke about his ordeal immediately following his injury, when a deflected puck knocked several teeth from his mouth in Nashville on March 25.
“Right when it happened I went to the Nashville room and their doctors and dentists did a great job trying to basically save my teeth,” he said. “They had to move a lot of them around obviously from the impact of the puck. They were all shifted in my mouth. They did a great job at that time to try and save them.
“I went to Vanderbilt hospital, and they brought a guy in there to put what is called an arch-bar on my teeth to try and save them. …It wasn’t really a surgery, it was just kind of a procedure that they did.”
The damage to Couture’s mouth was not localized to his top or bottom teeth.
“They’re all damaged,” he said. “A lot of these teeth are going to be taken out at some point once the season is over. They’ll have to remove a lot of them from my mouth.”
“It’s basically temporary to have some teeth in my mouth. That’s pretty much it. If they took them all out now then I would be almost toothless.”
Couture’s timeframe to return wasn’t anymore specific than the one offered by DeBoer, as he hasn't skated yet. The good news is he said he hasn’t lost any weight, and he is again able to eat some solid foods, although he has to chew his back teeth only.
“Gonna try to [come back this season]. That’s the goal, is to play hockey,” he said. “We’re taking at this point just today was a good day for me. Did some exercise. Feel good. We’ll go on to tomorrow, and when we get there we’ll see what I can do.”
As for the chances he’ll be in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in about a week-and-a-half, Couture said: “I don’t know. I’m focused on trying to get back on the ice, and right now we don’t know when that’s going to be. That’s all I’m focused on.”
Thornton, who had an MRI on his knee on Monday, is scheduled to speak with the media on Wednesday. Reached via text message, Thornton simply said: "Hope to be back soon."