Good news on Sharks' Wingels; Karlsson's chance


Good news on Sharks' Wingels; Karlsson's chance

ST. LOUIS – Brenden Dillon and Tommy Wingels will miss Monday’s Sharks game in St. Louis, but both could potentially return on Wednesday in Colorado for the conclusion of a five-game road trip, according to coach Pete DeBoer.

That’s not surprising regarding Dillon, who continues to skate and was expected to play at some point on the roadie. He’s probable for the Avalanche.

Wingels is questionable for the Avs, but that he’s even a possibility has to be considered good news. The 27-year-old forward went hard into the boards left shoulder-first against Florida on Thursday in the first period and has been off the ice ever since, including Sunday’s full team skate at Scottrade Center.

“Could have been a lot worse,” Logan Couture said about Wingels. “I thought it was his neck when he first went in. It was pretty scary looking.”

[KURZ: Sharks' Wingels injured, leaves game vs Panthers]

Still, the Sharks will have to cope with missing two of their more physical players – Wingels leads the Sharks with 160 hits, while Dillon is fourth with 102 – when they face a heavy Blues club on Monday. San Jose dropped a 5-2 decision to Carolina on Friday without Dillon and Wingels, in a rare recent game in which they noticeably lacked energy and jam.

Since losing at home to the Sharks less than three weeks ago on Feb. 4, 3-1, the Blues have won six of their last seven, including five in a row.

“I think that physical stuff we do by committee more than in the hands of one or two guys,” DeBoer said. “Those two guys definitely are at the front of the line for that type of play for us, but we’ve got other guys here that can step in and pick up some of the load.”

Couture said: “You lose a guy like Dilly on the back end, who plays a physical game, and you lose our leader in [finished checks] up front. Tommy brings that physicality that we haven’t had these last couple games. So, other guys need to step it up.”

[KURZ: Potential 2016 trade deadline targets for Sharks]

The Sharks still had just 12 forwards for Sunday’s practice with Mike Brown slotted on the fourth line, where he played against Carolina. DeBoer left open the possibility of a recall, though.

Regardless, forward Melker Karlsson will likely remain on the Couture line with Joonas Donskoi as the other winger. It’s a great opportunity for Karlsson, the Sharks’ 2014-15 Rookie of the Year, who has struggled to consistently score in his second season. In 42 games, the 25-year-old has 12 points (7g, 5a).

“It’s going to be some more minutes if I’m playing there,” Karlsson said. “Maybe some more scoring opportunities. We’ll see. I had a few against Carolina. I couldn’t put them in. It seems to be that way.”

Karlsson was denied from point-blank range in the first minute of the second period against the Hurricanes in a game that was still tied at 1-1 at the time. He just hasn’t been able to consistently bury his opportunities.

Karlsson, who missed training camp and the first 14 games with a nagging injury, described his season as: “Up-and-down. I think the coaches see that. I felt good right away when I came in, and my play [kind of yo-yoed]. I got chances; I didn’t put them. I think that’s why they wanted to change it up. The scoring wasn’t there. I feel good. I can play whatever. I’ll play the fourth line, I’ll play the first line. It doesn’t matter for me, whatever’s best for the team.”

DeBoer said: “Playing with Logan Couture, it’s a great chance to produce. … As long as those chances are there, I’m good with [Karlsson’s] game. He’s getting at least one good Grade A [chance] a night, so eventually those are going to go in.”

Sharks' Logan Couture speaks up on racism, in support of Evander Kane


Sharks' Logan Couture speaks up on racism, in support of Evander Kane

Sharks captain Logan Couture thanked Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu for speaking out against racism in hockey, tweeting a note Saturday that said the sport and society "are only scraping the surface in what desperately needs fixing."

"Racism exists in society, it also exists in hockey," Couture wrote. "That's a fact. Growing up in this game is a privilege. [At times,] I think most of us have been at fault for turning a blind eye when it comes to racism. It cannot continue."

Kane later tweeted his appreciation of Couture's message.

Kane, who is black, has become increasingly vocal speaking out against racism within -- and beyond -- the sport in the past year. In September, Kane told TSN 1040 in Vancouver that hockey lagged behind other professional sports in diversity and addressing racism after fan told him to "stick to basketball" in an Instagram comment. Kane called a story in "The Players Tribune" earlier this month authored by Aliu, whose revelation that Bill Peters directed racial slurs towards him in the AHL led to the Calgary Flames firing their now-former coach late last year, a must-read for everyone involved in hockey.

George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody Monday outraged Kane, tweeting that video of the incident made his "[f---ing] blood boil." Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, could be heard on video saying "I can't breathe" as former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck while three other officers at the scene looked on. Chauvin and the three officers were fired Tuesday, and Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

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Kane said Friday in an interview on ESPN's "First Take" that white athletes couldn't leave speaking up against systematic racism to their black peers. While Kane felt supported by his teammates, he told "Writers Bloc" on CJCL in Toronto later that day that hockey's team-first culture often encourages silence on a wide range of issues in the sport and outside of it.

“Is it going to change? I hope," Kane said (H/T Sportsnet's Sonny Sachdeva). "I’m going to try to be a part of the solution and process in creating that change. But … when it comes to social injustices and racism in hockey, it requires change at the top. Because, you know, that’s the only way true change is going to take place. At the top. Because it’s going to have a trickle-down effect.

“And until things change at the top ... until they make the necessary change to condemn these sort of acts and mindsets … and really weed out that type of thought process, we’re going to be stuck in the same position we are today, and that’s unfortunate.”

Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, who doesn't often publicly comment, said in a rare statement Friday that the Sharks applauded Kane's "rational and thoughtful response to the terrible tragedy" of Floyd's death. Defenseman Mario Ferraro retweeted the statement, and Couture's note is the first tweeted by one of Kane's San Jose teammates in support.

Evander Kane says white athletes must speak against police brutality


Evander Kane says white athletes must speak against police brutality

Sharks winger Evander Kane called on prominent white professional athletes to speak out against police brutality against African Americans.

Kane, who is black, joined ESPN's "First Take" on Friday morning to discuss George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this week. The 28-year-old Kane said it can't just fall on black athletes to lend their voices to causes of racial justice, and white players joining their black peers is "the only way" for professional athletes to truly affect change.

"We've been outraged for hundreds of years and nothing has changed," Kane said of black people speaking out against racism (H/T Fear the Fin's Sheng Peng). "It's time for guys like (Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback) Tom Brady and (Pittsburgh Penguins center) Sidney Crosby and those types of figures to speak up about what is right, and clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong. Because that's the only way we're gonna actually create that unified anger to create that necessary change, especially when you talk about systematic racism."

Bystanders in Minneapolis recorded video Monday of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, having a white police officer's knee pressed into his neck for nearly eight minutes as three other officers looked on. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe, but state charging documents alleged that the officer, Derek Chauvin, continued to have his knee on Floyd's neck for almost three minutes after he became non-responsive. Chauvin and the three other officers were fired Tuesday, and he was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter Friday.

Kane tweeted Tuesday night that the video of Floyd's death made his "[f--king] blood boil." He shared a petition Wednesday night calling for the four former officers to face charges.

The forward has been increasingly outspoken against racism in the last year, particularly in hockey. Kane is one of just 43 NHL players of color, according to WDET, and they account for fewer than 5 percent of the league. He said he hasn't seen "too many" hockey players discuss Floyd's death, but Kane feels supported by his teammates in speaking out.

"In terms of my teammates, they're incredibly supportive of me and what I stand for," Kane said. "I think hockey, unfortunately, has a different culture than some of the other sports in terms of speaking out and using your voice and speaking your mind. I think for me, I'm one of the anomalies when it comes to NHL players doing that. That's another part of the problem, guys being scared to really speak their mind and stand up for what is right."

Sharks owner Hasso Plattner, who doesn't often address the media, shared his support of Kane in a rare statement Friday hours after Kane's appearance on "First Take."

"There is no room for racism in society," the statement read. "We applaud Evander for his thoughtful and rational response to the recent terrible tragedy. Events like this occur way too often. We all must find a way to do better."

Kane tweeted he was "proud to be part of" the Sharks in response.

[RELATED: Kap starts fund to pay lawyers for Minneapolis protesters]

Kane said sports have the inclusive potential to bring people together from a variety of backgrounds. In order to live up to it, Kane thinks athletes -- white and black -- need to pull in the same direction off the rink, field and court.

"[When] we talk about our own personal battles outside of sports, there's a lot of people that are silent on issues," he said. "They're important issues. They're issues that have been going on for hundreds of years, and we need that same type of team mentality to be brought to issues outside of our sport."