Tomas Hertl

Deebo Samuel, Jeff Samardzija highlight non-NBA Bay Area stars pickup game

Deebo Samuel, Jeff Samardzija highlight non-NBA Bay Area stars pickup game

The NBA playoffs should be in full swing during this time of year, but the coronavirus pandemic continues to leave most live sports in the United States shuddered.

In the spirit of the season, we decided to take a look at what a hypothetical pickup basketball game would look like featuring all Bay Area athletes, excluding any Warriors for obvious reasons.

Some local pro athletes like Arik Armstead were multi-sport athletes in college, even earning a spot on Oregon's basketball team for multiple seasons. Others like Jaquiski Tartt actually grew up playing only basketball, before picking up organized football during his senior season.

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We drafted 10 players from across the Bay position-by-position, with representatives from a handful of local teams.

Tell us which team you have coming out on top.


How Sharks' Tomas Hertl is progressing, finds motivation in knee rehab

How Sharks' Tomas Hertl is progressing, finds motivation in knee rehab

Tomas Hertl is in unfortunately familiar territory, recovering from another major knee injury.
“I know so much about it after my career,” the Sharks center told NBC Sports California via FaceTime from the Czech Republic on Friday.
This time it was a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee which required season-ending surgery on Jan. 30. Not a whole lot different from his rookie season in 2013-14, and damage suffered to his MCL and PCL in his right knee that also necessitated surgery.
“My range of motion is already back,” Hertl said. “Swelling is just a little bit. The ACL is a long process, but it will heal.”
All is going well as expected in the recovery process, and there’s zero indication Hertl would miss any start of the next season. 

Hertl said he is walking normally and trying to build more muscle around the knee to protect it.
“It was tough when I got hurt,” Hertl said. “But now I know it’s fixed, now I know it’s strong I just have to make the muscles around it.”

Hertl also had surgery on his right knee during the 2016-17 season, and he has played in 453 of 574 possible regular-season games with the Sharks. Always full of cheer and smiles, the 26-year old actually is using doubt as one of his motivations.
“I’m doing it like a challenge,” Hertl explained. “Everyone who’s saying after another injury I will not be the same, I want to change that. I want to show them and all the kids who get hurt, they can come back. And even be better.”

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Hertl returned home to the Czech Republic two weekends ago, meaning he can now see his friends and family after spending the last 14 days in strict government-mandated quarantine due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“It’s just the rules,” Hertl said from his home in Europe. “We have to hold it. I think the Czech Republic are doing a pretty good job. We don’t have very many cases, and already next week they’re getting started re-opening some stores, and get back to normal.”

Sharks' injured stars expected to make full recovery by training camp

Sharks' injured stars expected to make full recovery by training camp

It has been nearly three full months since the last time Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Erik Karlsson all played in the same game for the Sharks.

Couture scored with precisely one minute remaining in regulation on Jan. 5 to give San Jose a commanding two-goal lead on the road against the Washington Capitals. In what would turn out to be arguably the most crushing loss of their season, the Sharks proceeded to give up two goals over the final minute before losing 5-4 in overtime.

That was the insult. Next came the injury.

In the second period of San Jose's next game on Jan. 7 against the St. Louis Blues, Couture took an awkward fall into the end boards and emerged with a fractured ankle. He would miss the next 17 games while recovering. By the time he returned to the lineup on Feb. 25, both Hertl and Karlsson's seasons had already ended.

Hertl tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 29. Just over two weeks later, Karlsson was placed on season-ending injured reserve after breaking his left thumb against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 14.

While the Sharks certainly experienced their fair share of struggles earlier in the season, the severe injuries endured by arguably their three best players were always going to be too much to overcome. San Jose wasn't anywhere near playoff position when the NHL season was indefinitely paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Though it remains to be seen if and when it will resume, it's safe to assume the franchise's postseason streak has come to an end.

Yep, the last few months have been pretty dark for the Sharks. Not being able to play games isn't helping, but the clouds might be parting.

In addition to restocking their draft cupboard at the trade deadline, the Sharks had two collegiate standouts -- John Leonard and Brinson Pasichnuk -- officially agree to join the organization Wednesday. On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson hinted that some more signings might be coming down the pipe in short order.

The most promising update Wilson provided, however, was how Couture, Hertl and Karlsson are progressing from their respective injuries.

In Couture's seventh game back in the lineup, he took a puck to the face -- the guy has the worst luck -- and was placed in concussion protocol as a precautionary measure on March 8. That was San Jose's penultimate game before the season was indefinitely paused, and he has been symptom-free ever since. The only thing preventing Couture from hopping back out on the ice -- if that were a possibility right now -- likely is his conditioning level, something he recently took steps to address

"Logan is feeling really good," Wilson told reporters. "I've talked to him quite a few times over the last little while. He has used the time really well. Sounds good, he got himself a Peloton, so he's riding every day. He's just about all the way back."

Like Couture, Karlsson's recovery hasn't been set back by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Erik is close to being all the way back," Wilson said, "and will be 100 percent for next season."

Though Hertl's injury was far more serious than the other two, his injury update was the most promising of the three.

"We got great news on Tomas Hertl," Wilson informed. "Talked to him yesterday. He's well ahead of schedule. Everything is going extremely well, and there should be no doubts with him being ready when next season starts, too."

Wilson insisted that all Sharks players and personnel are adhering to government recommendations and social distancing, but Hertl still has access to the team's training facility as he goes about his rehab. Wilson believes that access, combined with Hertl's previous knee injuries, has expedited his recovery this time around.

"He has been able to go to the facility and rehab with [head athletic trainer] Ray Tufts," Wilson explained. "He has got full flexibility and extension of his knee. I think what has happened, too, is he has the benefit -- we say that now; not a benefit at the time but it certainly is now -- he knows the process to go through. This is not an unknown for him.

"And talking to him yesterday, he just sounded outstanding. He's healed up, he's rested, he has got full extension. He has got some strengthening to do, but he said he even feels that he's well ahead of where he thought he would be, and that's been confirmed by our training staff and Ray Tufts, also."

[RELATED: Sharks' restocked draft picks, college signings offer hope]

We don't know when the next NHL season will begin. Heck, we don't even know if the current one will continue.

But whenever the Sharks next take the ice with a legitimate chance to contend for the postseason, it appears they'll have all three of Couture, Hertl and Karlsson in tow, which will be a huge help.

If San Jose is going to emerge from the recent darkness, those three likely will need to lead the way.