Sharks

Sharks mic up Dillon, offering glimpse into hockey's fighting culture

Sharks mic up Dillon, offering glimpse into hockey's fighting culture

SAN JOSE – Ask anyone in the league who’s been around the Sharks’ Brenden Dillon, and they’ll likely tell you that off the ice he’s one of the more gentlemanly players in the game today. That might surprise some outsiders, who have become accustomed to seeing the six-foot-four, 230-pounder drop the gloves and throw haymakers when he deems it necessary to stand up for one of his teammates.

But a video circulating on social media and talked about on The Today Show on Thursday morning, in which Dillon was mic’d up during a fight with Nashville’s Austin Watson, offered a glimpse into the 26-year-old’s personality. Immediately after exchanging blows with Watson in the second period of a game on March 11, Dillon and the Predators forward had a friendly chat from their respective penalty boxes that made it sound as if they were lifelong buddies.

In reality, Dillon didn’t recall ever even chatting with Watson in the past.

“People were asking, ‘is that your buddy?’ I literally have never met Watson before. I don’t know him at all,” Dillon said on Thursday.

For those that have seen the video, the “Joey” they were referring to was the Predators’ Ryan Johansen, whom Dillon said he knows “really well.”

That affable back-and-forth doesn’t happen after every fight, of course, but it’s not uncommon for hockey players in leagues that still permit fighting to be friends with one another, or to quickly move on from some rough stuff that has happened on the ice. It’s simply an accepted part of the culture and the game.

In this instance, Dillon was simply sticking up for Paul Martin, who was on the receiving end of a heavy hit from Watson.

“Some of [the fights], I for sure wouldn’t want to see the guy, talk to the guy, [or] touch the guy ever again in my life,” Dillon quipped. “There’s others where you’re able to joke around about it a bit. At the end of the day, you’re still going to go out and play hard, and finish your check on him the rest of the game whether you’re a good buddy or not.”

The Sharks have acquired players in recent years that had some run-ins with current guys already in the dressing room. Raffi Torres assimilated quickly into the dressing room when he was brought in four years ago, and Roman Polak was welcomed, too, despite pummeling Justin Braun in a playoff series while he was still with St. Louis in 2012. Most recently Jannik Hansen joined the team, and mentioned in his conference call with the local media just after the deal that he had fought Dillon once before.

Neither Hansen nor Dillon was worried about any discomfort, though, from a fight that had happened two years earlier.

“A guy like Jannik Hansen, three weeks ago is one of your worst enemies, and now you’re playing with him on the same team. You want nothing but the best for the guy,” Dillon said. “Last year when Polak came here, he [had] fought Brauner or something, and it was kind of like, is there going to be any awkwardness? I don’t think there ever was. You maybe joke around about it at first.”

“I think it’s something in the world of sports you respect one another, you respect what you do on a nightly basis. That’s kind of what hockey is. I think that’s something that separates it from football and baseball. You get a five-minute penalty for it, you come back out and play hard. There aren’t too many guys that will hold grudges. Obviously if there’s a bad hit there might be a little bit, but in certain instances like that one (with Watson), it just happened.”

Sharks rival Drew Doughty doesn't think Brent Burns deserves Norris Trophy

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APUSATSI

Sharks rival Drew Doughty doesn't think Brent Burns deserves Norris Trophy

We're down to two weeks remaining in the NHL season, and there's still plenty left to be determined.

Only five of what will be a grand total of 16 playoff spots have been clinched, and the races for many of the other 11 are likely to come down to the final days of the season. The same can be said for certain individual award races.

The former of those types of races doesn't really apply to the Sharks. They've already clinched a playoff spot and barring something crazy, they likely will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.

As for the award races, there's still plenty at stake and how certain players finish their respective individual seasons could prove to be the deciding factor in who goes home with the hardware and who will have to wait at least another year.

Both San Jose's Brent Burns and Calgary's Mark Giordano have been jostling back and forth for pole position in the race for the Norris Trophy -- given to the league's top defenseman -- practically all year long. And it appears they'll finish it that way, as well.

One former Norris Trophy winner -- Los Angeles' Drew Doughty -- was asked his thoughts on the current race ahead of the Kings' game in Calgary on Monday, and let's just say he didn't mince words when it came to evaluating Burns' candidacy.

Burns currently leads the Sharks and all NHL defensemen with 77 points -- one more than he had in 2016-17 when he won his first Norris. Giordano, meanwhile, ranks second among all NHL defensemen with 72 points. Burns has played in two more games than Giordano so far this season, but his 1.03 points per game still rank slightly ahead of Giordano's 0.99.

Giordano's Flames are the odds-on favorite to finish with the most points of any Western Conference team, though, and that could certainly work in his favor in such a close race.

[RELATED: Sharks need better goaltending with playoffs around corner]

Meanwhile, Doughty's Kings are currently dead last in the Western Conference, 10 points behind the next-closest team. Any realistic shot at the playoffs went out the window a long time ago, and Doughty himself is on pace for his fewest points in a season in which he played more than 48 games.

Doughty has a Norris and a couple of Stanley Cups to his resume, so his comments can't be completely disregarded. But that sure sounds like sour grapes from a frustrated veteran towards a longtime division rival, which -- given the history between the Sharks and Kings -- shouldn't really come as a surprise.

Sharks vs. Red Wings watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

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AP

Sharks vs. Red Wings watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are looking to snap their longest losing streak this season. They’ll have the opportunity to get back in the win column on Monday evening when they host Gustav Nyquist’s former team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Team Teal returns home after tallying just one point on their two-game trip down in Southern California with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks. San Jose currently sits with 95 points in the standings -- five points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights and six points behind the Calgary Flames.

The Red Wings are the second-worst ranked team in the Eastern Conference, but visit San Jose coming off a 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory over the Golden Knights. “They always give us a hard time,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of the Detroit squad. “Their speed. They’re young, they’re enthusiastic. They’re playing, really, with no pressure on them. Those are dangerous teams.”

The Sharks will continue to play with captain Joe Pavelski, who is continuing to recover from a lower-body injury. DeBoer told the media Pavelski was “heading in the right direction,” though. “If it was playoffs, he’d probably be able to play. But there’s no sense rushing that right now.”

Detroit will play without Thomas Vanek, who has been sidelined with a mid-body injury, per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. The Red Wings will roll out 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Sharks.

This is the second and final time the Sharks and Red Wings will play each other this season. Through 93 total games played between the franchises, San Jose holds a 34-49-4-6 record.

Sharks projected lines and pairs:

Timo Meier – Logan Couture – Gustav Nyquist
Evander Kane – Tomas Hertl – Joonas Donskoi
Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Kevin Labanc
Lukas Radil – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Tim Heed
Joakim Ryan – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

[RELATED: Sharks need better goaltending with playoffs around corner]

Red Wings projected lines and pairs:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Anthony Mantha
Luke Glendening – Andreas Athanasiou – Taro Hirose
Frans Nielsen – Darren Helm
Ryan Kuffner – Christoffer Ehn – Matt Puempel

Dan DeKeyser – Filip Hronek
Niklas Kronwall – Madison Bowey
Brian Lashoff – Luke Witkowski
Dylan McIlrath

Jonathan Bernier – projected starter
Jimmy Howard