Editor's note: This was published before Erik Karlsson announced that his wife gave birth to a baby girl, explaining his absence from Wednesday's season opener.
The Sharks looked terrible in their season-opening loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. There's no way around it. And while it's irrational to jump to conclusions based on the first of 82 regular-season games, these are not rational times.
That's because one of the major positives you could point to from the Sharks' offseason -- re-signing All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract -- was mysteriously missing from that lackluster opening-night effort, and that mystery has yet to be cleared up as of yet.
About an hour before puck drop, it was announced that Karlsson would miss Wednesday's game due to personal reasons. On Thursday, San Jose coach Pete DeBoer couldn't and/or wouldn't provide any additional information on the defenseman's status.
Obviously, Karlsson's well-being is the most important thing here, and the Sharks already are doing the right thing in supporting him by allowing him to do what he needs to do and be where he needs to be -- whatever and wherever that means.
But, there's no ignoring the fact that Karlsson is arguably San Jose's best player and absolutely essential to the team's success in the season ahead. While there was nothing to suggest Karlsson absence was at all injury-related, it's also notable that he had offseason groin surgery after missing considerable portions of his first season with the Sharks.
San Jose already is without suspended winger Evander Kane, and both Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc left Wednesday's game in the third period with injuries. That said, Kane's suspension will be up after two more games, and both Meier and Labanc were back at practice Thursday, so their absences will be brief, if at all.
Karlsson's, though, seems considerably less definite, and until more information is provided, the Sharks and their fans will be holding their collective breaths.
And they should be. He's that important.