Sharks

Sharks notes: Joakim Ryan, Peter DeBoer and teammates react to fight

Sharks notes: Joakim Ryan, Peter DeBoer and teammates react to fight

SAN JOSE -- Sharks defenseman Joakim Ryan returned to practice on Friday, no worse for wear the morning after his first NHL fight. 

“I feel fine,” Ryan said. “[He] didn’t really get me with too many [punches] there. He got me with one at the end, but kind of just the side of the head. Nothing too bad, really.”

Ryan dropped the gloves with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian with San Jose’s 5-1 win all but over on Thursday. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound blueliner spotted Bogosian five inches and about 40 pounds, per both team’s rosters. 

As the clock wound down, Bogosian checked Sharks winger Melker Karlsson into the boards while they battled for a loose puck. As Sabres blue-liner Jake McCabe knocked Sharks rookie forward Rourke Chartier off the puck, a scrum ensued, and Bogosian dropped his gloves shortly after. San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon then fought McCabe, as Ryan tried to keep Bogosian away from McCabe. 

The two eventually traded punches, as Bogosian was assessed a roughing penalty and a fighting major, while Ryan was only given the fighting major -- the second of his professional career, and his first since Dec. 26, 2016 in the AHL. 

Bogosian’s gloves were off moments after the initial hit, and before he fought Ryan. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said he was surprised the Sabres defenseman only picked up seven penalty minutes from the exchange. 

“You know, I was worried for him. It was a dangerous play,” DeBoer said of Ryan. “I’m surprised that there wasn’t a different call on the play. I think we put in the instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game like that for exactly that reason. There’s no doubt that it was unnecessary, and he could’ve really gotten hurt. I’m just happy that he got out of it without getting hurt.”

According to Rule 46.12 of the league’s rulebook, “a player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty.” 

Had Bogosian been called for an instigator, he -- and Sabres head coach Phil Housley -- would have faced supplemental discipline. Rule 46.22 adds that a player called for those penalties would face a one-game suspension, and the coach a $10,000 fine. 

Dillon told reporters he didn’t immediately realize Ryan had fought, until teammates told him afterward. He said he appreciated Ryan’s willingness to step in, but the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dillon joked with reporters he would have been a better match for Bogosian.

“I think at the end of the game I maybe grabbed the wrong guy,” the defenseman said. “I should’ve maybe grabbed Bogosian, not McCabe, but Joaks did a good job under the circumstances.”

Thornton “doubtful” vs. Islanders

Center Joe Thornton skated at the team’s practice Friday morning, but DeBoer told reporters that the 39-year-old is doubtful to play Saturday night against the New York Islanders. 

Could Thornton travel with the team for their three-game road trip next week? 

“I don’t know, we’re day-to-day here,” DeBoer answered. “He looks good in practice. We’ll make that decision when we get to Monday.”

Thornton returned to practice on Tuesday after missing the previous four games. He experienced swelling in his surgically repaired right knee the morning after San Jose’s 3-2 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 5, and was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 7.

He has not returned to the active roster yet, as rookie forward Dylan Gambrell remains with the team. 

Maintenance days for Hertl, Karlsson, and Labanc

Defenseman Erik Karlsson and wingers Tomas Hertl and Kevin Labanc did not practice on Friday. All three played against Buffalo on Thursday, but have missed practice in recent days.

Karlsson missed practice last Saturday when he was feeling “under the weather.” Hertl returned to practice on Wednesday, but did not skate in Thursday’s morning skate. Labanc missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and DeBoer told reporters on Wednesday he was fighting off a virus. 

Dylan Gambrell wore a white jersey and skated in Labanc’s place with Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane. Thornton, meanwhile, skated with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.

That probably doesn’t mean much, as the Sharks had a very light practice on Friday. Here’s how the rest of the lines shook out. 

Evander Kane - Joe Pavelski - Dylan Gambrell
Joe Thornton - Logan Couture - Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen - Antti Suomela - Joonas Donskoi
Barclay Goodrow - Rourke Chartier - Melker Karlsson

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

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell

Sharks' Erik Karlsson supports Evander Kane's message in lengthy post

Sharks' Erik Karlsson supports Evander Kane's message in lengthy post

Sharks forward Evander Kane has been extremely outspoken about racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd's tragic death while in Minneapolis police custody last week. Both San Jose's owner Hasso Plattner and captain Logan Couture have publicly supported Kane's efforts and recognized the need for his message.

On Wednesday, another of Kane's teammates joined that group.

Erik Karlsson, arguably the Sharks' most well-known player on a global scale, wrote a lengthy Instagram post to not only support Kane, but also further expound on his message.

"I can't tell you how many times I've written and deleted this hoping it comes across the right way," Karlsson began. "I don't think I'll ever feel completely comfortable but the reality that exists for so many others is pretty much as far away from comfortable as you can get. Coming from and growing up in a small village in Sweden, I never knew anything other than you should treat everyone the same way you would want them to treat you. I never once thought about skin color, where you come from, how you dress or what you possess. No person is worth more or less than another. You always treat someone the way you want them to treat you, regardless of how you look or where you are from. To be where I am right now in 2020 and see the things I see and hear the things I hear. It blows my mind how blind I have been to the issues that have been here for a very long time and that still exist."

"I thought I grew up in a world where it didn't matter what skin color you had or where you're from and that we are all the same, but I now know I was not educated on something so crucial," he continued. "Unfortunately, we cannot change the past, but we for sure can and need to change how we move forward, and I think we do that by learning and listening. I respect and support Evander for what he stands for and how he's so vocal about this issue. 

"I haven't gone through any of these issues in my life so I can never say I know what it's like. But all I know is that I want my daughter and all other children to grow up in a world much, much better than ours right now. A world I thought I grew up in where we are all equal and treated as such. A world that didn't exist but I pray soon does."

[RELATED: How Sharks will learn, grow from forgettable '19-20 season]

Fewer than five percent of the NHL is comprised of players of color, according to WDET. As such, it has been tremendous to see so many white players join in and proliferate such a desperately needed message for both the league and world at large.

The more people that do, the more likely Karlsson's vision is to be realized.

What Sharks can learn from last time they missed Stanley Cup playoffs

What Sharks can learn from last time they missed Stanley Cup playoffs

The Sharks we so bad in 2019-20 that they couldn’t even qualify for an expanded 24-team NHL playoff field designed to wrap a campaign paused by the coronavirus pandemic.

They’ll be watching playoff hockey from home for just the second time in 16 seasons, an outlier outcome for a team that has been as steadily successful as any in professional sports.

The Sharks fell flat during a disastrous season where they finished dead-freaking-last in the Pacific Division and never got off the canvas after a brutal start. A team full of veteran stars finds itself in an odd position heading into a prolonged offseason, trying to find a way to rebound quickly from a disappointing campaign.

Many top players were around the last time the Sharks missed the postseason in 2014-15, and while the situations are not identical, there are lessons to be gleaned from the experience and their previous response to disappointment.

They finished above .500 in that 2014-15 season, and didn’t miss the postseason by much. The Sharks went 3-10 in the month of February, which sank their playoff chances and prompted the team and head coach Todd McLellan to mutually part ways.

But the Sharks reached different depths in 2019-20. They were the Western Conference’s worst team despite a roster full of heavyweights, with injuries to key players and some internal discord preventing the Sharks from reaching their vast potential. The letdown also led to Peter DeBoer's in-season firing and a coaching search now underway.

But Sharks captain Logan Couture knows a lot can be learned from that last offseason.

“I think a lot of guys went home during that summer determined to be in better shape and add some bite to their game,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said last week during a video conference with local reporters. “[Sharks GM Doug Wilson] challenged a lot of us to step up our games and improve as players. We wanted to come into the next year and prove that we were still a good team here in San Jose. I believe that summer a lot of people wrote us off and said the window was closed, that the team was done and to stick a fork in them.”

The Sharks surely will see similar predictions this offseason, just as they did five years ago, and it could prove to a motivating factor this time around.

“I think that lit a fire in a lot of us, and I think we’ll have a similar response this year,” Couture said. “There are going people writing those same articles. There are going to be fans thinking the same things. The only way that can change is if we make it change and show everyone we’re still a good team.

“We still have the pieces, in my mind, to compete. That’s all we can do, just work as hard as we can this summer and be as prepared as we can heading into the next training camp. I don’t think our camp this year was up to par, so we need to have a better one and get off to a good start, because we didn’t have a good one this year.”

Defenseman Erik Karlsson hasn’t been in San Jose long, but experienced plenty of disappointing seasons with the Ottawa Senators. He missed the playoffs four times with that club and each time – he was traded after missing the 2017-18 postseason -- the team responded to each setback with a playoff berth the following season.

“Every time you have a letdown, when you don’t feel that you performed up to the standards that you would like, it gets to everybody on the team and within the organization,” Karlsson said. “You have to make sure you come into the next year as prepared as possible to avoid having a bad situation repeat itself. That type of response shows a lot of character, and we have a lot of high-character guys on this team. I feel like, ever since we found out our season was ending, everyone has committed to coming back stronger next year.”

[RELATED: Couture believes Sharks' ambition must be high in long offseason]

The Sharks came back super strong after missing the 2014-15 playoffs, reaching the Stanley Cup Final the following season. It will take some discipline and consistency to find similar form after a down year, with possibly eight months between their last game and the start of next season, which should be delayed due to a prolonged hiatus due to the ongoing public health crisis.

“Even not playing now, you’re going to have to train for seven or eight months. That sucks,” defenseman Brent Burns said. “It’s not fun. It’s tough work to get your body and mind ready for a year and we have to figure out how to do that for double, triple the time. Guys train as hard as they can and thank the gods it’s only two and a half months away from the game. It’s going to be difficult.”