Sharks

Joe Thornton passes Gordie Howe, ties Teemu Selanne on NHL scoring lists

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AP

Joe Thornton passes Gordie Howe, ties Teemu Selanne on NHL scoring lists

Joe Thornton seems to notch another career milestone every night he takes the ice, and the Sharks' game Monday night in Vancouver was no different.

In fact, he notched a couple.

Thornton entered the contest tied with Hall of Famer Gordie Howe for ninth place on the NHL's all-time assists list.

"He's a legend," Thornton said of Howe on the pregame broadcast. "My father told me lots of stories about him when I was younger, but it's a huge honor to be up there with him."

After the second period, Thornton occupied ninth all on his own. He surpassed Howe with a primary assist on Kevin Labanc's second-period tally, which made the score 6-1 in favor of San Jose.

In breaking the tie with Howe, Thornton also tied another Hall of Famer in former Shark Teemu Selanne.

The assist on Labanc's goal marked the 1,457th point of Thornton's career, tying him with Selanne for 15th on the NHL's all-time points list.

[RELATED: Sharks praise Labanc after his first career NHL hat trick]

It's not every day you surpass not one but two of the greatest players to ever step on the ice. But, given the rate Thornton has moved up these lists as of late, perhaps we should get used to it.

Why Sharks are confident they can make up for lost offensive firepower

Why Sharks are confident they can make up for lost offensive firepower

SAN JOSE -- There has been a lot of talk outside the Sharks dressing room about whether this season's roster can make up for the offensive firepower the team lost during the offseason.

Sure, some of that talk may be circulating within the dressing room as well. But San Jose knows it has the tools to fill the void -- regardless of what the outside world is saying.

"I think the media's going to talk about those things," defenseman Brenden Dillon said as camp opened up. "And in our room too -- there are lockers that are open. There are positions open. You see different line combinations throughout camp."

In addition to losing regular-season goals leader Joe Pavelski (Dallas) for their upcoming campaign, San Jose will be without depth scorers Joonas Donskoi (Colorado) and Gustav Nyquist (Columbus), as well as defenseman and penalty-kill staple Justin Braun (Philadelphia).

While most NHL teams see some sort of turnover in the offseason -- heck, the Sharks are no strangers to how the business of hockey works -- there has been plenty of speculation ahead of the 2019-20 campaign as to how the Sharks will compete since they didn't add a big-name player to their roster to make up for their losses

But as Dillon explained, he and his teammates have to focus on the guys who are on the roster with them right now --- not who they're missing from last year.

"I think it's about realizing the opportunity for us," he summarized. "Whoever's in this room, whoever's dressed for game nights, that's your teammate. That's who you're going to battle with."

Logan Couture had a similar message on the first day of training camp. As hard as it may seem to fill in for the departed players, that's part of the game. Plus, it gives emerging players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, and Kevin Labanc the chance to fill in those roles.

"It's not an easy task, but that's the way it works," the captain said. "Same thing happened when Patty (Marleau) moved on somewhere else. Other guys got opportunities to step up and our scouting staff did a tremendous job bringing in European players as well as Timo and Banker, guys like that they drafted. There's a new wave of younger players we're excited about and hopefully this year they can break through like Timo and Banker and Tommy Hertl did."

The Sharks are, in fact, putting a lot of stock in the crop of youngsters that have come into this year's training camp. General manager Doug Wilson went so far as to say earlier this month the team is "as excited about this group of forwards coming in as we've ever been." 

[RELATED: Why Sharks' alternate captains are just as important as Couture]

After just a couple days of practicing and scrimmaging, those younger players already are starting to show that they are ready to compete for big jobs.

Seeing such positive results at the start of the preseason makes it easier for the Sharks to look forward with the players they currently have in their dressing room. 

"I think it just shows the future is bright for us," Dillon said. "And I think for a lot of -- whether it's analysts or (whoever) -- saying we've got 'too many holes to fill' and missing too many things, camp so far has been really good, and there's a lot of talent."

How Sharks’ Evander Kane, wife are healing since unborn daughter’s death

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USATSI

How Sharks’ Evander Kane, wife are healing since unborn daughter’s death

SAN JOSE -- Evander Kane had a relatively visible summer, including his near-nude photo shoot with ESPN and some back-and-forth jawing with Las Vegas’ Ryan Reaves.

However, none of that carried the same importance as the recovery that the Sharks winger and his wife, Anna, continue to make following the passing of their unborn daughter, Eva, at 26 weeks, almost exactly six months ago.

“It definitely makes you realize what’s important,” Kane said last week. “Every minute, you had different emotions, different feelings. My wife, seeing what she went through, it was harder on nobody else but her.”

Kane’s absence from the Sharks in late February initially corresponded with a high hit that Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara laid on him. Most of the public thought Kane’s extended leave was related to injury, until March 14, when he publicly revealed the tragedy on Twitter.

“It takes a real big toll on you, and I had to step away for a week there, in order to re-group and gather myself. And to be there for my wife,” Kane said. 

The hockey community across North America instantly responded to Kane via social media and other platforms. And it made a difference.

“It was humbling, actually, the support that we got,” Kane said. “Especially from the hockey world. I don’t want to say surprising, but it was, in the amount of support we got, and we’re very appreciative of it.”

Evander and his wife also received special support from a much closer place. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and his wife, Melinda, had lost their unborn child in March 2018, and were quick to be of comfort, given their unfortunate bond.

“Having a fellow teammate that has been through that process as well, and our wives being good friends, I think that definitely helped,” Kane said.

[RELATED: Sharks' alternate captains just as important as Couture]

Despite all of last season’s turmoil, Kane still managed to be one point shy of his career-high 57, while missing seven games. It’s amazing what he went through on a personal level during those final months, and leads you to believe some fresh beginnings will do he and his wife well.

“It’s still a process,” Kane said. “It was six months [last month]. It will always be a process, and we just want to cherish her much as we can. For me, that’s how I’ll move on. I find myself talking to her, even though nobody is around. It’s one of the ways I kind of find peace with it.”