Sharks Joe Thornton discusses his season, and his future – The Mercury News

Sharks Joe Thornton discusses his season, and his future - The Mercury News

Karlsson, Thorntons future with Sharks uncertain

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton (19) waits for a face-off during their game against the St. Louis Blues in the first period in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton speaks with the news media from the team's practice facility at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton's locker is photographed the team's practice facility at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

You look at 2016 when we went to the Final, you dont realize how fortunate we were and how healthy we were at that state, probably, the captain said. You cant really think of too many guys that had major things going on. This year we kind of got caught in the other route where we had a bunch of injuries and different guys were stepping up. Its how it goes. Im definitely happy with the character in this locker room and guys stepping up playing hard, playing through things and finding ways to win games.

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton speaks with the news media from the team's practice facility at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE — Joe Thornton hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he wants to return for a 22nd NHL season and make another run at his first Stanley Cup, and general manager Doug Wilson said the Sharks will give the future Hall of Fame player all the time he needs to make a decision.

Two days after the Sharks were eliminated from the playoffs by the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final, Thornton said he still had to talk with his family and sit down with majority owner Hasso Plattner, Wilson and coach Pete DeBoer before he decided his next move. Thornton said he didn’t have a timetable for a decision.

Of course, not every player was able to play through their injuries. Erik Karlsson ended up missing the third period of Game 5 and all of Game 6 against the Blues because he aggravated his lower-body injury from the regular season. At this point, Karlsson is hoping he doesnt need to have off-season surgery.

“I feel like I can still play, thats for sure,” Thornton said. “But I havent made any decision at all yet.”

“Im a Shark. Im a Shark,” Thornton said. “Theres one team, and its here.

I just got it fixed yesterday, Hertl said on Thursday, speaking to the press with multiple bandages around his left pinkie finger. He then joked: I think it was actually working. Probably (had) my best faceoffs of my career in the playoffs. So maybe I have to do it more often.

Thornton has accomplished nearly everything a player can do through 21 NHL seasons except win a Cup. Just this season, Thornton eclipsed Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita and Steve Yzerman to move into eighth place on the NHLs all-time assists list. He finished the regular season with 1,065 helpers.

Pavelski all on his own was a walking list of ailments. In addition to taking a puck to the mouth and sustaining a scary head injury in the first round, No. 8 aggravated a knee injury from the regular season during Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues — and had surgery on his left hand.

Thornton said he pulled a groin muscle on his first shift of the series against the Blues, but otherwise felt healthy throughout the Sharks 20-game playoff run. He entered the conference final against St. Louis averaging 15 minutes and 59 seconds of ice time per game, sixth-most among all Sharks forwards.

It was just entertaining, man,” Thornton said. “The Vegas series, wow, and Colorado, wow. Youre the final three teams left and its disappointing not to be playing next week. I think the people of this area are proud of the guys in here and I think they should be. With the amount of guys that were injured, thats no excuse, but they poured their hearts out and played their hearts out this year.

We had guys who were playing that were injured as well,” Logan Couture told reporters. “They werent hurt — they were injured, the injuries took their toll.

Thornton is finally entering another offseason where he doesn’t have to rehabilitate a knee injury.

By the time the Sharks had reached the Western Conference final, enough players were dealing with injuries that it became hard to pick up the slack.

Video: Sharks Erik Karlsson discusses free agent future and health

Thornton suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee in April 2017, just a week before the playoffs began, before he remarkably returned to play in the third game of the Sharks first round series against the Edmonton Oilers. He suffered the same injury, only to his right knee, in Jan. 2018, but was unable to make a comeback for that playoff run, which ended with a six-game loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.

Both general manager Doug Wilson and head coach Peter DeBoer likened Pavelski and all of his injuries to a car accident victim.

Thornton had to spend countless in rehabilitation in both of the last two summers, which led to slower-than-hoped for start the following season.

Joe Pavelski said the health of the team was a stark contrast from the last time San Jose made a deep playoff run.

Both times, though, he as able to bounce back to be more productive in the second half of the season. Thornton played in 73 games this season and finished with 51 points.

Thorntons 2019 campaign was nothing short of impressing. After missing time at the start of the season due to complications with his surgically-repaired knee, he evolved into Team Teals third-line center and began climbing up the NHLs all-time points list. For him to get so close to going to another Stanley Cup Final and coming up two wins short was hard for even his teammates to watch.

“He’s still got game,” DeBoer said. “For me, I’d love to have him back.”

I have such tremendous respect for him, not just as a hockey player but as a man, Wilson said. He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decisions right for him. But we love him. I think Ive been in this business a long time, Ive never met anyone like him and we cherish the days we have him. Whatever decision he makes, were there for him.

Its been a while that I havent had to worry about swelling in either knee and things like that, so its going to be nice to get some rest here first off, and then see what the plans are,” Thornton said. “Its nice.

Video: Joe Pavelski discusses injury and says he wants to stay with Sharks

Because it weighs on you man, it does. Its a grind that rehab process. Some guys are going to have to go through it this summer and its a grind. Its mentally tough to do that every single day and not sure what the outcome is going to be. For me personally, dont have that issue. Well see.

Now the questions as to whether Thornton will return carry even more weight as the Sharks offseason – and likely an eventful offseason at that – gets underway. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has many questions to answer before next season, but he made it clear he would love to have Thornton in the mix.

Some Sharks players and even DeBoer after their loss in Game 6 mentioned how they wanted to win a Cup for Thornton.

One of those decisions, of course, revolves around his health. For the first time in a few years, Thornton is entering the offseason without a serious injury that needs rehab. Nevertheless, how he feels with the general bumps and bruises that come with a long playoff run will also play into his decision.

I didnt buy into that. I think that was more for you guys,” Thornton said. “I think this whole area needs a Cup. Theyre definitely on the right track, and just disappointing for this area not to be playing like I said next week, but this was a really, really fun team to watch, entertaining team to watch, and an inspirational team to watch.

On the TV, when I saw Jumbo, that was the hardest moment, Hertl said sadly. We lost and we see Jumbo, how he wants it and how he played in the playoffs, how he was hunting the Cup. To see him lose two games before the Final was really hard.

Related Articles How to proceed with Joe Pavelski may be Doug Wilson’s biggest decision this summer Tough call for Erik Karlsson and the Sharks, too For the Sharks, an offseason of uncertainty begins Sharks’ Thornton says he hasn’t thought about retirement The better team won, as Sharks beaten at own game He’s played 1,566 games in his career and has 1,478 points — 1,024 since he came to San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005 in what became the biggest trade in franchise history.

“Hes a Shark,” Wilson said, “I have such tremendous respect for him, not just as a hockey player but as a man. He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decisions right for him. But we love him.

“I think Ive been in this business a long time, Ive never met anyone like him and we cherish the days we have him. Whatever decision he makes, were there for him.”

Share Share Exit Interviews: Thornton, Pavelski, Karlsson and Wilson talk about the future tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports Spring is always a bittersweet season in San Jose.

It was no different today, as the San Jose Sharks cleaned out their lockers after another valiant but ultimately futile run for the Cup.

As Thornton stood clad in a hoodie as he addressed the press one last time this season, his future continues to remain uncertain. Although he made it clear he hasnt ruled out a return next season.

This summer might be a shade different though for an organization that has proven to be one of the most stable in all hockey.

Id love to see him again, Hertl said, and try to help him because hes a great teammate and hes a great locker room player. I started with him and he showed me the way.

39-year-old Joe Thornton, who altered the course of the franchise when Doug Wilson acquired him in November 2005, might retire. Captain Joe Pavelski, whos actually been in the organization longer than Thornton — Pavelski was drafted in the seventh round in 2003 — is an unrestricted free agent. Superstar Erik Karlsson, brought in to put the team over the top, is also an unrestricted free agent.

But Thornton is a team guy. So it wasnt too surprising when No. 19  told the media on Thursday morning that he didnt buy too heavily into that line of thinking.

Well start with Wilson and Peter DeBoer, then run down every Shark who spoke today: Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Karlsson, Timo Meier, Gustav Nyquist, Pavelski, Radim Simek and Thornton.

Not surprisingly, he had little to say about Pavelski and Karlssons impending free agencies. He did say of Thornton: Hes a Shark. He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decisions right for him.

Sharks could look very different next season as the futures of Thornton, Pavelski and Karlsson remain uncertain

Wilson, on what Thornton & Pavelski mean to #SJSharks room: “The world. You cant put it into words.” pic.twitter.com/52KCyn0B1N

Wilson, on challenge of Meiers post-entry level contract: “Weve done bridge contracts. Ive had conversations with his agent. Timo certainly understands how everybody has been treated; well treat him well.” pic.twitter.com/bnmlsMCP8k

He did detail Pavelskis many injuries this post-season. Besides the mouth and the concussion, Pavelskis left hand was operated on two weeks ago. This injury occurred before Game 7 of the Vegas series.

No surgery will be required on Pavelskis knee, the ailment which kept him out of Game 6 against St. Louis.

You have to have a blend of a team. You need some size, you need some speed. You need compete and you look at the teams that have had success this year, I think they were all blends.

Karlsson did not travel for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against the St. Louis Blues after leaving in the second period of Game 5, but he wouldnt elaborate on his injury or whether he needs surgery. He just said it was something hed been dealing with since January.

He lamented a lack of a killer instinct, especially in the Colorado and St. Louis series: We had opportunities in the next two series to grab ahold of those series at different points with a complete effort at the right time.

“I dont think that anything that we could have done would have changed the outcome,” Karlsson said. “I was very fortunate to be able to play pretty much all the games, except the last one, in the playoffs at a reasonable level, even for my standards. I think thats great.

For whatever reason, we couldnt muster it. I still dont know why. Thats something Im going to have to dive into, look back at. We made the road too hard on ourselves.

Karlsson, who was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 13, had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 53 regular-season games and 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games for San Jose.

He did speak to a changing team and how Martin Jones might have to adjust: He took a lot of heat during the regular season. But we were a different team this year than we had been in other years, we scored a lot of goals.

Nights when we won 5-4, his numbers maybe didnt look good, but that didnt mean he didnt play at an elite level.

Karlsson said the Sharks have treated him with “nothing but class and respect” since he arrived in San Jose. Now, he has to decide whether hell return.

It might look like that going forward. Him and I have had conversations, were not the same team we were even 3 years ago when we went to the Cup Final, where we really smothered teams defensively, but had a harder time scoring. Weve got a group, at least this year, hopefully moving forward, that can score.

SAN JOSE — Erik Karlsson said he stays in the moment, which is why he hasnt thought about where hell play in the NHL next season.

In order to play offensively like that, youre going to give up a little bit more. The wins and the numbers might look a little bit different. But that doesnt mean theyre any less effective.

True to form, the one thing Burns said about the playoffs was he had fun. He especially relished Game 7s: Its fun to go seven games. Its not easy. But it was another great opportunity to have a hero emerge.

Its fun as a competitive person to know you have one game to figure your shit out. To get some sleep. Get good. Make sure youre ready. And you have to win. Its probably not good. But its fun.

Burns will spend the off-season driving his kids to school and playing with them. He quipped, Ive had an excuse for a couple months to not do it. Its gone.

Burns, on how DeBoer has got the best out of him over the years: “Hes such a smart guy, he knows different ways of getting to people, to get their best, whether they need a smack or maybe a hug.” pic.twitter.com/rAQwWU43DH

Despite leading the NHL in playoff goals right now, Couture expressed no personal satisfaction with his play. The teams failure still clearly weighed on him.

He did, however, express confidence that his GM would put together a contending team next year, no matter what: Trust Doug. Hes done a tremendous job in his tenure here of giving us an opportunity to win.

I think I played my best hockey in the playoffs, said Donskoi. The thing I could have done better is I could have scored more goals, be more productive and I think thats what we needed in the playoffs. Its all about depth and thats what Im disappointed at.

Donskoi is an unrestricted free agent this summer and hopes talks to bring him back to the Sharks organization will begin soon.

Donskoi, on his impending free agency: “Its been a great 4 years here. I really hope I can be back.”He admitted it was an up-and-down season, but was happy with how he finished: “The main thing is I played my best hockey in the playoffs.”

DeBoer benched Donskoi at times this season, but the 27-year-old blamed himself and his lack of consistency for how his role with the team diminished throughout the course of the season.

The Finn, who came to the Bay Area the same season as DeBoer, expressed his gratitude to the coaching staff: Theyve been a huge help for me. When I first got here, I didnt know anything about American hockey. I was playing in the Finnish league; its a lot different.

Probably nobody expected me to play in the NHL the first season I got here, but they gave me the chance. Theyve had a huge impact on my career.

This, despite his disappointment that Barbashev wasnt disciplined for hitting him in the head: I think it was blindside. He just hit my head. He didnt really touch anything else.

Hertl revealed that in the last practice before the Vegas series, he broke his left finger after getting slashed. He then quipped, Probably my best faceoffs of my career in the playoffs. So maybe I have to do it more often.

The 25-year-old was pleased with his consistency this season and is aiming for the same next season: I dont want to be a guy that one year has 70 points, the next year has 40. I will push myself and be a leader on the team.

When Im not scoring, I try to bring different things to the team. Try to be good in other ways.

We dont get a lot of notoriety around the league for our young guys, but they did a really good job this year, Kane said. The future of this team, in my mind, is very bright.

Karlsson, on San Jose: “Ive been treated with nothing but class & respect here. Ive seen the best side of what this organization & this city has. Ive liked everything that Ive seen.”

Karlsson, on being so close to winning the Cup: “If we wouldve been healthy, we wouldve had a legitimate chance of winning the Cup, which is a great feeling to have. Its something that for the first time in my career Ive experienced. I enjoyed that.”

When asked if he was expecting Drew Doughty money, he quipped: I kind of wish I was signing my second deal and I was 21 and promising and hadnt accomplished anything, the people that everyone seems to want.

As for his multiple injuries, he expressed no regret with how they were handled: I dont think that anything that we could have done would have changed the outcome.

Karlsson says he has no regrets about how his multiple, similar injuries were handled: “We did what we felt was best at the time at hand, with the information that we had.” pic.twitter.com/PYq1Vlzyi3

As for sitting out Game 6, he said it was his and the coaching staffs decision: We felt that by me playing, I wouldnt do enough to help our team. Thats what its all about. I wanted to play. I probably could have played if I had to.

He expressed confidence that even if surgery is necessary, hell be able to train in full this summer and be better than ever.

Karlsson, on his impression of Pavelskis leadership of #SJSharks room: “He reminds me a lot of a good friend of mine in [Daniel Alfredsson]. He leads by example, by determination. He doesnt play an easy game. I have a lot of respect for that.”

Meier is the biggest restricted free agent that the Sharks need to lock up this the off-season, but he wasnt interested in talking about it.

The burgeoning star also downplayed the idea that any significant injury, specifically his late-season upper-body ailment, played a role in what he admitted was an up-and-down post-season for him.

Meier noted the injury that he suffered before the playoffs did not affect his game: “No, not really. Thats just kind of playoff hockey, playing with bruises. Its a physical sport.”

Try to push myself this summer to get to another level physically, said Meier. [There are] things that I know I need to do better and thats going to help me and make the organization better and the team better because thats what its all about.

While its expected that Nyquist will be a victim of San Joses upcoming salary cap crunch, he was effusive in his praise of the city and organization.

Im pretty confident, Pavelski shared. Ive got a pretty strong belief system that Ill be back here.

He also went into detail on why he missed Game 6, indicating it was from the Alex Pietrangelo Game 5 hit: Re-aggravated my lower body injury from the end of the year. It never fully healed up, but it was good enough to go for awhile. Just got hit in a way that kind of lit it up again.

DeBoer, on Pavelskis multiple playoff injuries: “When you get the injury report on Pavelski, he looks like a car accident victim, between the mouth & the knee & the head & the finger.”

Speaking of injuries, Pavelski reflected on how impressive San Joses run this year was, considering the serious ailments that he, Karlsson, Hertl and others dealt with: You look at 16 when we went to the Final. You dont realize how fortunate we were. You cant really think of too many guys that had major things going on.

Most fans call him the Wookie Whisperer, but in the locker room, hes known as Beast. We learned thats the nickname Thornton gave him.

Two months after having surgery to repair the ACL and MCL and meniscus in his right knee, Simek is back on the ice trying to get in shape for next season.

Its still a long way for me, Simek admitted. He said he was looking forward to fighting for a roster spot this September.

#SJSharks defenseman Radim Šimek was back on the ice freely skating 2 months after surgery to repair his torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus. The Sharks medical staff considers his recovery to be progressing faster than usual. Šimek plans to be fully ready for training camp in September.

I think the people of this area are proud of the guys in here and I think they should be. With the amount of guys that were injured, thats no excuse, but they poured their hearts out and played their hearts out this year.

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