Why Sharks' Evander Kane enjoys 'fun' rivalry with Vegas' Ryan Reaves

Why Sharks' Evander Kane enjoys 'fun' rivalry with Vegas' Ryan Reaves

SAN JOSE -- An NHL interview rarely ever begins with this response.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even know why I’m talking about this guy,” Sharks winger Evander Kane said.

“This guy” is Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves, who famously exchanged words and tweets with Kane during the teams’ first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. That animosity faded into the summer -- and seemed to be temporarily extinguished -- until Reaves recently proclaimed himself “Kane’s worst nightmare” while officiating a Las Vegas wedding, of all things.

“I think it’s great, I think it’s fun,” Kane said of the banter. “I enjoy it -- I’m sure he does, too. I think hockey needs more of that. It creates more entertainment value, more build-up.”

Kane also cleared some air about the longstanding “rivalry” Reaves has been proclaiming.

“I don’t remember him, I don’t remember our earlier NHL days,” Kane said. “I wouldn’t have went up against him. I’m not a fighter -- he is. I score goals, he scores once every 50 games. I don’t understand the comparison in this rivalry.”

While “chirps” are standard fare in hockey, Kane also recently took to social media in challenging a serious topic: lack of diversity in the sport. Furthermore, he shared some of the comments he occasionally receives as one of the league’s few black players.

“It’s not always straight-out, blunt racist remarks. Let’s be clear on that,” Kane said. “It’s the underlying tones of what’s written, what’s said. How things are being perceived. Whether people realize it or not, it’s a problem.”

[RELATED: Kane bares (almost) all for magazine]

Kane is 10 years deep into his NHL career, and said he simply now feels more comfortable to address an issue he’s been living through during the entire career.

“Coming to San Jose has really allowed me to be myself, and I feel comfortable talking about these things,” Kane said. “And if it’s not me, who else is it going to be?”

Patrick Marleau thanks Sharks fans for warm welcome back to San Jose

Patrick Marleau thanks Sharks fans for warm welcome back to San Jose

Patrick Marleau is home. For the first time since returning to the Sharks, Marleau skated in front of the home San Jose fan fans at SAP Center on Sunday night. 

As you might guess, it was an emotional scene for both Marleau and Sharks fans. The 40-year-old couldn't help but let out a few tears when fans erupted at the sight of him on the jumbotron in the first period of a 3-1 win over the Flames

On Monday, Marleau took to Twitter through his wife Christina's account to thank Sharks fans for such a warm welcome back to The Tank.

[RELATED: Patrick Marleau left lasting mark on Maple Leafs]

The Sharks, who dropped their first four games this season, have now won two straight since signing Marleau to a one-year contract on Oct. 8. He already has three points -- two goals and an assist -- in the two victories, too. 

Marleau spent the first 19 seasons of his 22-year NHL career with the Sharks before he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the 2017-18 season. He's San Jose's all-time leader in games played (1,495), goals (510) and points (1,085).

Dylan Gambrell's improved play aiding Sharks' quest for four-line game

Dylan Gambrell's improved play aiding Sharks' quest for four-line game

SAN JOSE - One of the biggest criticisms of the Sharks at this early point in the season has been that its younger players hadn't stepped up yet.

That changed on Sunday evening in San Jose's 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames. 

Sure, San Jose's young stars Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Kevin Labanc all found the net in the victory. But when Hertl and captain Logan Couture addressed the media postgame, independent of each other, both pointed to newcomer Dylan Gambrell's emergence over the last few games as a key factor in the Sharks' recent success.

Gambrell's positive production as fourth-line center is giving San Jose more offensive depth. While the Sharks' forward attack is still a work in progress, the 23-year-old forward is evolving into the pivotal player the team needs.

"He's been given an opportunity and these last two games he's really shown what he's been capable of," Couture said. "When we have that line playing well and the other three rolling over, we're a tough team to beat."

Head coach Peter DeBoer agreed with the assessment of his captain.

"For him, that's all about competing," DeBoer said of Gambrell. "Sticking his nose in there and competing. His skill and speed will take over and he's starting to do that here regularly."

There was a spotlight on Gambrell heading into training camp after he signed a two-year contract following a season in which he bounced between the AHL and NHL. But the University of Denver product didn't readily establish his game when he was plugged into the top six through the preseason and, like the majority of the Sharks, struggled out of the gate in the first few games of the regular season. 

After penciling back onto the fourth line, Gambrell's game visibly changed. 

"I think he saw that he was close to being sent back. That's the reality of it," DeBoer admitted. "He wasn't as effective (in training camp) as he is now. And maybe that's on us. Maybe we asked him to do too much. We played him on the wing on the top two lines and maybe it was too much for him."

Back at the center position on that fourth line, however, the speedy forward has been on an upward trend. He's been more effective in the faceoff circle and more aggressive on the puck, which gives San Jose depth down the middle that they, frankly, have been missing since last season.

"He had a little tough start but now he's playing a really hard game and this is what we need," Hertl said. "Good on faceoffs, strong on the puck."

Continuing that higher level of compete can make the Sharks' quest to establish a four-line game a bit smoother. As San Jose has encountered through the first six games of the season, the Western Conference is stacked with teams that can get production out of any line they roll out onto the ice. While the Sharks' offense is still in the process of getting healthy -- Marcus Sorensen is still sidelined -- the team needs to get its four-line game in place if they're going to completing recover from their rough start to the season.

[RELATED: Sharks fans give Marleau standing ovation]

"In this league, you need four lines," Hertl summarized. "It's not about just one line. Every night you need four lines plus your goalie."

If Gambrell can continue this upward trend, the Sharks have a better chance of achieving that goal.