PHILADELPHIA – Dainius Zubrus remains with the Sharks, although he’s still not technically on the Sharks.
The 37-year-old veteran forward was one of 10 skaters on Thursday during the team’s optional practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He's still with the club on a tryout, and it’s still uncertain if he has a future with the organization.
Of course he'd like to be a part of the Sharks, officially, at some point. After the skate, Zubrus opened up a bit about his situation over the summer, when the New Jersey Devils bought him out of the final year of a three-year contract in which he was due $3.1 million in late July.
“It wasn’t expected when it happened, the timing of it,” he said. “I was training, I didn’t think that was going to happen. I started training before June, and I was a couple months into it when I got the news.”
He apparently never considered retiring.
“I didn’t feel like stopping. I felt like I could still keep going. I was excited about a new season. My training, my wanting to play never stopped. I was just kind of hoping I would get a call to go somewhere and try out at least. Better late than never I guess, and here I am.”
Zubrus got a call first from Sharks coach Pete DeBoer, who was his coach in New Jersey for three-and-a-half seasons, including in 2012 when they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s also familiar with Johan Hedberg, a former teammate with the Devils from 2010-13.
He considers his relationship with the Sharks coach a “good” one.
“I think I’ve understood what he asks players to do,” Zubrus said of DeBoer. “I don’t question much, I just go about my business. I’ve played for a lot of different coaches over my career. Usually whatever they say, there is no reason to question it or anything else. You just do it. Once the whole team buys into it, that’s when you can get to places.
“I feel like I can talk to him. I’ve always felt I can walk into his room and talk about things or whatever. I think he feels the same way.”
Although Zubrus is unlikely be in the Sharks’ lineup on Thursday against the Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center has special meaning to him. In 1996, in his first game in the NHL, Zubrus scored the first-ever goal in the history of the building as an 18-year-old Flyers rookie.
In 1243 career games with the Flyers, Canadiens, Capitals, Sabres and Devils, Zubrus has 225 goals and 584 points. In 74 games with New Jersey last year, he posted 4 goals and 10 points.
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DeBoer was not at practice on Thursday, instead spending time with his family, which still resides in New Jersey.
Along with Zubrus, the Sharks that skated at the Class of 1923 rink included Alex Stalock, Mirco Mueller, Matt Tennyson, Nikolay Goldobin, Micheal Haley, Mike Brown, Chris Tierney, Matt Nieto and Brenden Dillon.