Sharks

Sharks' Vlasic critical of NHL's Olympic proposal

Sharks' Vlasic critical of NHL's Olympic proposal

ST. LOUIS – The biggest story in the NHL earlier this week centered on potential Olympic participation in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. 

The league and the owners aren’t too keen on the idea, as shutting down the league for two weeks in the middle of the second half and risking injuries to star players isn’t worth the added exposure or the hassle. The NHLPA, though, wants to go, including members Joe Pavelski and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, both of whom were in the most recent tournament in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

On Wednesday, it was reported that the league would be willing to allow the players to go to the Olympics in exchange for extending the current CBA, which could be up for renegotiation as soon as 2020. Sportnet.ca’s Elliotte Friedman breaks it all down, here.

Vlasic heard about the proposal by the league. His reaction?

“I started laughing,” he said. “That’s not negotiating. It’s not.”

“As an athlete, it’s your right to go to the Olympics. I don’t know if [the report] is true. I hope it’s not. That’s not the way you negotiate things. But, if that is true, all of a sudden they don’t mind having a two-week break in the NHL for a three-year collective bargaining agreement.”

Pavelski, who recently served as captain of Team USA at the World Cup and has played in the Olympics twice, said he wasn’t completely caught up on all the details of the latest report. He did, though, make it clear that he hopes NHL players are permitted to play in the 2018 games.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “The Olympics are the Olympics, right? I think they speak for themselves, and everyone loves being a part of it. Those are a couple moments in my career that you really appreciate the chance to go and represent your country, and take in that whole atmosphere, and compete.”

There is speculation that if the NHL decides to skip the Olympics, some players might go anyway. Alex Ovechkin is already on record as saying he would leave the Washington Capitals to compete for Russia. 

According to Pavelski, “it’s hard to say” how the players would react if the league doesn’t allow them to go.

“It sounds like some people will be going regardless, and others you don’t really know. It’s too early to tell, and we’ll figure that out when it comes,” he said.

One player that wouldn't take the news well is Vlasic, who won gold with Team Canada two-and-a-half years ago.

“If they don’t allow players to go, that’s just…in my opinion, you don’t do that. You don’t do that," he said.
 

Sharks vs. Penguins watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

Sharks vs. Penguins watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

SAN JOSE – The Sharks have been rolling since the start of 2019. They will face another tough challenge in their last home game before the All-Star break when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

San Jose was busy last week, playing five games in an eight-day span. But, they won each of them. After a slow start on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, the Sharks cruised to a 4-1 victory and extended their winning streak to six games.

The Pens are 8-2-0 in their last 10 contests. Pittsburgh has caught fire after a slow start to the season – including a five-game losing skid in November – and has been playing some of their best hockey of the season. They are 7-2-1 against Pacific Division teams this season.

This is the first of two games the Sharks and Penguins will play against each other this season. In 39 total franchise meetings, San Jose is 19-15-3-2 against Pittsburgh.

Sharks projected lines and pairs

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

Radim Simek – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Tim Heed – Justin Braun

Martin Jones – projected starter
Aaron Dell

[RELATED: Thornton to notch 'great accomplishment' vs. Penguins]

Penguins projected lines and pairs

Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Tanner Pearson – Evgeni Malkin – Dominik Simon
Riley Sheahan – Derick Brassard – Phil Kessel
Derek Grant – Matt Cullen – Garrett Wilson

Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Olli Maatta – Jamie Oleksiak
Marcus Pettersson – Jack Johnson

Matt Murray – projected starter
Casey DeSmith

Sharks practice notes: Joe Thornton to hit milestone vs. Penguins

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USATSI

Sharks practice notes: Joe Thornton to hit milestone vs. Penguins

SAN JOSE – The Sharks only play the Penguins twice a season. But they are well aware of how tough the Eastern Conference contingent can be.

“We’ve played a lot of good teams lately, and these guys coming into town, they’re playing as good as anyone right now,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said after Tuesday’s morning skate ahead of Team Teal’s first contest of the season against Pittsburgh.

Much like the Sharks, the Pens had an uneven start to their 2018-19 campaign, winding their way through a couple losing skids and only tallying four wins in the month of November. They’ve since turned things around, however, and had an eight-game winning streak going before they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on January 6. 

“I think when you’ve had the deep runs they’ve had, I think it’s natural that you have some lulls in the regular season," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "But you can see they’re starting to pick it up and find another level." 

The Pens enter Tuesday’s contest with a 7-2-1 record against Pacific Division teams this season, using depth scoring and elite special teams play to find success. San Jose is going to have to play a disciplined game if they want to keep Pittsburgh from running away with the game, Pavelski said.

“When they’re playing well, they can beat you in a lot of different ways,” the captain summarized. “It’s a game we’ve got to be ready for. We’ve had a couple days off so (we’ll) get back out there early and re-establish what we were doing.”

“They’re starting to put it together and it’s a great test for us,” DeBoer said.

Big night for Jumbo

Speaking of Joe Pavelski, his linemate Joe Thornton will be skating in his 1,000th game as a member of the Sharks on Tuesday night. 

“I’m sure he’ll say it’s another game,” Pavelski said with a smile. “But obviously it’s a great accomplishment.”

A great accomplishment indeed, given the ups and downs Thornton has had health-wise over the last couple of seasons. The magnitude of his accomplishments isn’t lost on the rest of the team.

“It’s amazing, his career,” DeBoer reflected. “First ballot Hall of Famer. Still playing at a really high level. His greatness is in what he does for other players, how good he makes other people around him. That’s a rare thing.”

One of those special players is 26-year-old Marcus Sorensen, who has spent a good chunk of his breakout 2018-19 season on Thornton’s wing. Sorensen, who just signed a two-year contract extension with San Jose, expressed how happy he was to get to play on a line with the seasoned veteran.

“I play with one of the best players in the world,” Sorensen said. “I’m honored to play with him and Pavs right now. Love playing with those guys. It’s so easy to play with them.”

Tuesday’s game is just one of Thornton’s milestones Sorensen has been part of. The Swedish winger also set Thornton up for his 400th career goal earlier this season.

“It’s special,” Sorensen said. “I was here when he played his 1,500th (NHL) game. I was able to pass (to) him for his 400th goal. I’m going to keep those memories for my whole life.”