What, Doug Wilson worry?
If Wilson is at all concerned with Erik Karlsson’s less-than-outstanding 2019-20, in the first season of the superstar defenseman’s eight-year, $92 million dollar contract, the San Jose Sharks general manager wasn’t showing it this morning.
This year, by the way, is the first time since 2010-11 — that’s nearly a decade — that Karlsson didn’t receive a single Norris Trophy vote. Yes, even in 2012-13, when Karlsson played just 17 games in an injury-shortened season, he received a third-place vote.
So what reasons did Wilson offer to give San Jose Sharks fans hope that Karlsson can bounce back despite a recent rash of injuries and advancing age?
“It might be the first time he’s been 100 percent healthy since he’s been with us,” Wilson offered.
In September 2018, when the San Jose Sharks acquired Karlsson, there were still concerns about the two-time Norris winner’s full recovery from his September 2017 ankle surgery.
Last May, Karlsson underwent groin surgery after battling constant lower-body injuries during the last half of the 2018-19 season.
“Erik has great pride. Last year, he had a disjointed start with the beginning of the season. He had a lot going on in his life. New-born baby right before the Vegas [season-opener],” Wilson added. “He had an off-season where he had surgery and was able to rehab it to a certain point. Whether or not he had enough time to rehab it and build up the strength and conditioning that he needed?”
Wilson got an update from Karlsson, who’s holed up in his adopted hometown of Ottawa, yesterday: “Erik has been able to put a lot of work in.
“Now, he’s been able to put all that behind him. He says he feels fantastic.”
30 Is the New 20
Wilson also isn’t fazed by the fact that Karlsson just turned 30: “You take a look, a lot of the top defensemen [are] in that age group, whether it be Roman Josi or Drew Doughty.”
Like Karlsson, 2020 Norris winner Roman Josi just turned 30. Doughty is also 30. Of course, San Jose Sharks teammate Brent Burns won the 2017 Norris at 32.
“He still played some pretty good hockey for us [this year]. But I think his best hockey is now and going forward,” Wilson asserted. “I think you’re about to see Erik Karlsson be one of the dominant players in the game again.”
Everything Is Awesome
Wilson also shared glowing updates about other banged-up San Jose Sharks stars.
If the 2020-21 season had started as scheduled, there was some question as to whether or not Tomas Hertl would’ve been ready.
Hertl required season-ending surgery after suffering ACL and MCL tears in his left knee in January.
“Tomas has trained extremely hard, no limitations at all,” Wilson offered, “he’s ready to go.”
Wilson re-asserted that Logan Couture is 100 percent healthy after concussion and ankle issues this year.
He also added of Burns, who played through nagging injuries this season: “Burnzie is skating 2-3 times a week. He’s going out doing hikes. He’s got a gym there [in Texas].”
For a top-heavy San Jose Sharks squad, this is all good news.
“Our best players have to be our best players,” Wilson emphasized. “Getting them back rested and our top of their game is the most important thing for us.”
Rocky Thompson: “Leave analytics out of the locker room.”
George Kingston was the San Jose Sharks’ first head coach. Fast forward to 2015: He was the President of the NHL Coaches Association when he sent a fateful e-mail.
“George Kingston always sent out an e-mail asking for people who would want to present at the NHL’s coaches conference at the NHL entry draft,” San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson told Oilersnation earlier this week. “I felt I needed to get my name out there, so I called him and said I’d like to present.”
Thompson’s career was at a crossroads when he took the stage at the 2015 NHL Coaches Association Global Coaches’ Clinic in Florida. He was a coach without a team — the Edmonton Oilers had just fired his head coach Dallas Eakins — and he didn’t know if incoming head coach Todd McLellan would keep him.
There were over 400 coaches in attendance: “He blew them away.”
Windsor Spitfires owner Bob Boughner was one of them: “What he said really hit home with me.”
The Spitfires hired Thompson as head coach and he led them to the 2017 Memorial Cup. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights followed up, selecting Thompson to be their first-ever AHL head coach, and he led the Chicago Wolves to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals.
And now, the circle from Kingston to Boughner to San Jose is complete: Last month, the San Jose Sharks tapped Thompson to be part of the head coach’s staff. Thompson will be running the defense and the power play.
San Jose Hockey Now caught up with Thompson in a wide-ranging interview earlier this month.
Curious how the San Jose Sharks might maximize Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns’s talents? How Phil Jackson and the triangle offense will apply to the Sharks? As a coach, how to use analytics the right way?
Thompson, to say the least, loves nerding out about hockey.
USNTDP coach Nick Fohr on Bordeleau’s Hockey IQ, Chmelevski’s Skating, Labanc’s Confidence
It’s Thomas Bordeleau Week here at San Jose Hockey Now!
Today, Sheng Peng joined the podcast, and we really got into detail on Bordeleau with his former USA Hockey National Team Development Program coach Nick Fohr.
Bordeleau isn’t the first San Jose Sharks prospect that Fohr has coached — the current USNTDP Associate Coach has worked with Kevin Labanc, Scott Reedy, and Sasha Chmelevski.
Here’s a select transcription from this fun, informative interview — Fohr shares Bordeleau’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, discusses Chmelevski’s flawed-but- improving skating, and reveals what Labanc’s USNTDP teammates gave him a hard time about.
Nick Fohr, on Thomas Bordeleau’s greatest strength and weakness:
In Thomas’s case, he’s a very crafty, skilled forward that competes pretty hard. That was something he really improved on in the two years with us.
He really loves to rely on this skill.
He’s a cerebral player. He really takes in the game. He reads plays well up and down the ice sheet.
That being a strength of his, one of his weaknesses, he relies on his skill too much. That was something we talked with Thomas a lot: Although you are a skilled hockey player, you are not skilled enough to make it in the NHL on skill alone. You have to develop a little more bite, a little more aggressiveness. You gotta round your game out a little bit more defensively. Commit to those things and not rely on just being a skilled player. Those players don’t make it in the NHL anymore. They don’t. They used to. At least they don’t make it for a long, extended period of time.
Fohr, on Bordeleau’s hockey IQ:
If you ask a coach or a scout or a GM, what are your three most important things? People almost always throw hockey IQ at you.
For me, with Thomas, where you really see it, when you see the intelligence, when he gets the puck on his stick, his ability to manipulate the other team, manipulate the defender. For example, on the power play, when he has the puck on his tape, the way he postures the puck, the way he holds the puck on his stick, the way he postures his body, will tell one story to the defender, to get the defender to move. [That] opens up the play he really wants to make.
That’s a really, really, really hard skill. It takes a lot of hockey intelligence to do that, to understand the messages you’re sending to a defender. It’s a really elite trait of his.
Fohr, on Sasha Chmelevski’s skating:
The knock on him was always his skating. He kind of skated really wide. He didn’t recover his skating very well, so his feet were always really, really wide. So people were always worried about his skating, his ability to get around the rink.
I think he’s fixed that a little bit, as I’ve seen him over the years. But he’s similar to a Bordeleau type from his ability to make plays. They actually make pretty good comparables.
Fohr, on Kevin Labanc’s Twitter handle:
By the way, he’s got one of my favorite Twitter handles out there with @Str8ToTheBanc. He had that when he was here and I remember the guys gave him a hard time about it. But I loved it.
Fohr, on if Labanc’s USNTDP teammates were jealous that Labanc has such a cool last name:
(laughs) That was probably part of it. To have the cunning to him to be able to do that, right? Kevin never lacked the confidence to pull something off like that, that’s for sure.
Make sure to listen to the entire interview: It’s well worth your time if you’re interested in the draft process for USNTDP players (6:00), which San Jose Sharks scout concentrates on the USNTDP, what Bordeleau’s game looks like (10:00), and how his father (former NHL player Sebastien Bordeleau) helped shape his game (16:00). We also compare Labanc and Bordeleau (23:30) and get a Chmelevski update from Fohr (30:00).
BREAKING: Sharks Are Talking to Conor Sheary
When free agency began on October 9th, the question was, “Who would the San Jose Sharks sign?”
After almost two weeks of relative inactivity — besides adding familiar faces Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto and losing franchise icon Joe Thornton — the question became, “What’s Doug Wilson doing?”
San Jose Hockey Now has good news for Sharks fans: Wilson is still active in free agency. So who’s he looking at — Conor Sheary, Erik Haula, or Mikael Granlund? We’ve got the scoop!