Remembering how Sharks' Tomas Hertl brought the fun as a 19-year-old

Remembering how Sharks' Tomas Hertl brought the fun as a 19-year-old

It feels like years, but it's barely been a month since Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk went in between his legs for a highlight-reel goal against the Sharks back on Feb. 10. It was so spectacular, even the San Jose broadcasters couldn't help but be in awe. Of course, it wasn't the first time they had seen something like that.

It would have been difficult for Sharks forward Tomas Hertl to get off to a better start to his NHL career than he did as a rookie during the 2013-14 season. In the first game of the season, he got the primary assist on San Jose's first goal of the campaign. Two nights later, he notched the first two goals of his career. Three points in your first two games? Pretty good.

He wasn't done. Hertl more than doubled his career point total in the next game alone.

Not one. Not two. Not three. Four. Four goals in his third career NHL game. And Hertl saved the best for last.

Already with a hat-trick, Hertl received a pass at the New York Rangers' blue line and entered the offensive zone at a high rate of speed. Without slowing down, he deftly maneuvered the puck in between his legs just before roofing it into the top of the net to give San Jose an 8-2 lead in the third period. Rangers backup goaltender Martin Biron didn't know what hit him.

With his fourth goal of the night, Hertl became the youngest NHL player (19 years, 330 days old) to record a four-goal game since Jimmy Carson (19 years, 254 days old) did it during the 1987-88 season. Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews have since accomplished the feat at a younger age.

Still, not bad for a 19-year-old, right?

Hertl has scored 126 additional goals since his coming-out-party that night against the Rangers, but never once has he tallied four in a single game. Multiple knee surgeries have slowed him down, but they've never diminished the personality of a player who once famously said, "Fun must be always."

As we all know, this is not a fun time right now. The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is being felt all around the globe, including the sports world. With the NHL season indefinitely paused, Hertl and the Sharks don't have any upcoming games in which they can generate joy for their fans. So, we're going to make it work another way.

[RELATED: Sharks' Vlasic has fun sledding with dogs during NHL hiatus]

At 8 p.m. tonight, Hertl's four-goal game will be shown in its entirety on NBC Sports California. The Sharks ultimately won 9-2, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Sharks fans to jump out of their seats.

In these trying and unprecedented times, there isn't a better Sharks player to focus on than Hertl. We might not be able to have fun "always" right now, but at the very least, we can tonight.

Sharks' Erik Karlsson adjusting well to new fatherhood amid NHL hiatus

Sharks' Erik Karlsson adjusting well to new fatherhood amid NHL hiatus

The last six months have been hectic for Sharks star Erik Karlsson.
It's not just the uphill hockey season, and thumb surgery, and the suspension of all sports in general. But it's also becoming a dad, and getting really good at … diapers.
“I can’t say that I’m a pro at it,” Karlsson joked. “Although I do change the diapers at night in the complete dark, and that can be a little tricky at times.”
Erik missed the first Sharks game of the season to be with his wife, Melinda, for the birth of their daughter, Harlow Rain. Now that hockey sits idle, the defenseman is substituting line changes with teammates for diaper changes with his daughter.
“I’m a little bit more of a risk-taker,” Karlsson said about his strategy. “I do believe if the diaper is full and she’s done, then she’s done.”
He also reaffirmed what every parent quickly learns: "No. 1s" are much easier to handle than "No. 2s."
“It depends what type of No. 2, too,” Karlsson said. “Some are easier than others.”
Fatherhood of six months already has made Karlsson realize he’s changed.
“My patience, especially is a lot better, and the uncertainty of things,” Karlsson shared. “Not being able to plan as much ahead as you could before.”
Fortunately, Karlsson's left thumb has recovered well since the injury and required surgery in mid-February. Meaning he’s not limited in dad duties this summer.
“That’s been great. It was one of the things I didn’t really worry about to begin with, and I’m definitely not worried about it right now,” Karlsson explained. “If the season would have been on, I probably could have played a couple weeks ago.”

[RELATED: Bettman says NHL examining all options for restart]
This means the Norris Trophy winner should have no problem defending 2-on-1s next season, just like he’s defending “twos” and “ones” this summer.
“At first, it made you gag sometimes," Karlsson said, "and now it doesn’t even faze me really.”

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Sharks' Mario Ferraro reveals lesson learned in whirlwind rookie year

Mario Ferraro has surpassed the wildest of expectations in his rookie season with the Sharks, and it hasn't exactly been an uneventful one.

Since making the jump straight from college to the pros, the 21-year-old defenseman has witnessed a mid-season coaching change, the acquisition and eventual trading of a franchise legend, a seemingly endless string of serious injuries to roster cornerstones and -- oh yeah -- an indefinite pause of the NHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Not exactly your average rookie year.

Technically, Ferraro's rookie season hasn't come to an end -- at least not yet. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that there currently is too much uncertainty for the league to be able to determine when the season might be able to resume, though he hopes to "know more by the end of April." In any case, even if San Jose was able to play out its remaining games, there are only 12 left. Considering the Sharks fell to the absolute bottom of the NHL standings right before the season was paused, an additional playoff run is entirely out of the question.

So, for all intents and purposes, we can't really consider Ferraro a rookie anymore. He has 61 career NHL games under his belt, so, really, that has been the case for a while.

Ferraro flew back to Toronto shortly before the Bay Area's shelter-in-place orders went into effect, and has been doing his best to stay in shape while living at his parents' house. In a recent discussion with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil, he described an important lesson that was crucial to his development as a rookie.

"I think one small thing that's actually not small at all when you really look at it," Ferraro said, "is just preparation and that mentality of staying even-keel the whole year. What I mean by that is not getting too high on the highs or too low on the lows. You have so many games and so many important games that if you have a good game one night, you better forget about it because you gotta do the same thing the next night. Or, vice versa, if you play poorly, you really gotta forget about it and bounce back strong.

"And it's not just from game to game -- it's from shift to shift. You're playing in a league that has really fast players, strong players. You can get exposed, and it's going to happen. People are going to make mistakes. I'm a defenseman, so I feel like you're more bound to make mistakes ... they're more glaringly obvious. From a mental perspective, you really have to learn to just kind of say, OK, it happened. Move on. Let's get back to my game and play hard."

While Ferraro is correct that no player is exempt from making mistakes, he didn't have too many glaring errors throughout his first season in the NHL -- or at least, he did a good job covering them up. He earned the trust of the coaching staff and was rewarded with additional opportunities, which he proved capable of handling. Over the last eight games before the season was paused, Ferraro averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per night.

[RELATED: Leonard reunited with college roommate Ferraro on Sharks]

In terms of mentors on the team, Ferraro specifically mentioned fellow defenseman Brent Burns as someone who has been tremendously helpful to him. And like seemingly everyone else in that locker room, Ferraro is a big fan of Joe Thornton. But ultimately, it has been a team effort in supporting Ferraro throughout his rookie year. It takes a village, after all.

"Nobody's counted out on this team," Ferraro explained. "They're all great guys. They've all taught me a ton this year, and we're really close. It has been a good learning curve for me."

While we're all focused on flattening the curve, it has long been evident that -- as a rookie -- Ferraro's wasn't very steep.