Sharks respond to Drew Doughty's comments on the Norris Trophy race


Sharks respond to Drew Doughty's comments on the Norris Trophy race

There’s always smack talk in hockey. But in the most recent installment of such banter, the Sharks have chosen to take the high road. 

LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty opened up about how he judges players in the Norris Trophy conversation. And he appeared to throw shade at Sharks’ blueliners Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson in the process.

Doughty prefaced by saying he doesn’t judge the same way fans or writers do.

“I watch the games. I watch how they play. I watch Brent Burns get beat 20 times a game," Doughty said, via The Athletic. "That’s how I base it. And I like how [Calgary Flames d-man Mark Giordano] plays. I’ve got tons of respect for Gio. He plays the game the right way. He plays the game at both ends of the ice. He’s on the power play. He blocks shots. He’s a first PK guy.

"You don’t see that from Burns or [Erik] Karlsson. They’re not first PK guys," Doughty continued. "They’re amazing as offensive guys. None of us are close to them there. We don’t have the offensive upside. But they don’t have even close to our defensive upside, so …

“I would want Giordano on my team before those guys.”

Doughty’s comments went viral when they hit Twitter earlier in the week, particularly his commentary on Burns, who won the Norris Trophy a year after Doughty did. When Burns and Sharks’ head coach Peter DeBoer were asked about the comments, neither gave them too much mind.

“I think he’s a great player,” Burns told Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News. “Obviously [Giordano] is too. Guys can say whatever. Everybody’s got their opinion, I guess. 

“All these guys are guys I like to watch and learn from, so, I would watch his game and learn parts of it. I like my game, though.”

DeBoer took a similar approach when asked about Doughty’s comments.

“I just think guys should stick to commenting on their own games,” he said. “For me, that’s where everybody in this league’s focus should lie.”

[RELATED: Injured Sharks on mend ahead of final games of season]

Burns currently leads all defensemen in the NHL with 77 points. Giordano comes in second with 72 points.

What Evander Kane hopes to teach young Sharks for rest of lost season


What Evander Kane hopes to teach young Sharks for rest of lost season

The Sharks are as baby-faced as it gets after the NHL trade deadline. 

Brenden Dillon, Barclay Goodrow and Brenden Dillon no longer are no longer walking through San Jose's locker-room door after being traded to the Eastern Conference. A cadre of rookies is, however, with six dressing against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at SAP Center.

The youth movement is on with the Sharks entering Thursday's contest 14 points back of the Western Conference's final wild-card spot, and the onus is on San Jose's veterans to lead by example, according to winger Evander Kane. 

"I think that's exactly what you gotta do," Kane told NBC Sports California's Bret Hedican before Thursday's game. "You've just gotta go in there and work hard, do what you do best and just kind of encourage them to play their game. They're all here for a reason, [so] go out there and prove it. Go out there and show it."

The Sharks want Kane to set the example. He was benched during the entirety of the third period of Saturday's loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, starting the next game on a line with depth forwards Alexander True (a rookie) and Stefan Noesen. 

Kane didn't score Sunday or against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, but he did lead the Sharks with nine shots on goal during that time and played more than any other forward (20:43) in the loss to the Flyers. It was exactly what Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner wanted to see. 

“I thought he was good,” Boughner told reporters in Uniondale, New York on Sunday of Kane's performance against the Islanders (via The Athletic). “He had a lot of puck possession, he played the right way. I’d say I was hoping that, but I knew that he’s a guy that has a lot of pride and wants to play hard for his team. I think that’s good that he came back with that kind of showing.”

[RELATED: Jumbo ready to help Sharks after deadline disappointment]

Kane, 28, is in the second year of a seven-year contract extension he signed with the Sharks in 2018 when he passed on testing the market as an unrestricted free agent. Neither he nor San Jose would've envisioned that second season would end without a playoff appearance, but Kane and the Sharks are committed to each other for the long haul. 

He and his fellow veterans will be counted on as teachers for the rest of the season, and the Sharks will need their young players to be quick studies in order to return to the playoffs next spring. 

Joe Thornton showing Sharks no sign of post-trade deadline hangover

Joe Thornton showing Sharks no sign of post-trade deadline hangover

SAN JOSE -- Joe Thornton has a no movement clause in his Sharks contract but made it crystal clear last week he was willing to waive it for a chance to win his first Stanley Cup. That won’t happen here in San Jose, where a miserable season mercifully is winding down.

General manager Doug Wilson shipped three players to playoff contenders. Patrick Marleau was in that group, now gunning for a championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thornton was not.  Jumbo's still rocking teal. 

The 40-year old future Hall-of-Famer expressed disappointment in that outcome the following day, but the sentiment didn’t last long.

Thornton’s already back to his jovial self, with no lingering grief that might impact play as the Sharks play out the string starting Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils.

“That’s one guy I never worry about,” Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said Wednesday after Sharks morning skate. “I said it would’ve been nice to find the right situation and the right opportunity. He was very public with his comments about that. We support that as well and would’ve liked to see someone who has given so much to the game be rewarded.

“But, the very next day, and even today we had a conversation about it, and he said all that’s over with now and let’s get back to work. We’re all doing something we love to do. There’s no better example of that mindset than Jumbo. He always has a smile from ear to ear and loves coming to the rink every day. That’s never going to be an issue with him.”

Captain Logan Couture’s a bit torn over seeing Thornton still with the Sharks, but ultimately happy to have his friend help lead this team down the stretch.

“We’re fortunate to have him,” Couture said. “I do wish I was going to be watching him playing in a couple weeks, still on the ice with a chance to win the Stanley Cup, just because he deserves it. He’s such a great competitor and such a great guy. But I am happy he’s here, though, I wish we were headed to the playoffs.

"Unfortunately, that’s not the way it is.”

[RELATED: Wilson hopes Sharks' youngsters can help team finish on high note]

Thornton has said this won’t be his last hurrah, though his Sharks tenure might be ending soon. He’s set for unrestricted free agency after the season, with an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup atop the priority list.

That seems unlikely for a Sharks team with several upgrades and additions needed to find previous form.

The fact Thornton wants to keep playing isn't surprising to those who see him work every day.

“I’m not shocked,” Couture said. “He’s going to be 41 in July but he still has some game left. Some of these games lately, he has been one of our best players and led our team, through all the injuries, to compete in these games. He still has great hockey in him. He sees the ice as well as anyone as has life in his legs.

"It’s pretty remarkable.”