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Sharks Locker Room: Cooley Has Become More Than Just a Feel-Good Story

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

When the San Jose Sharks acquired Los Gatos native Devin Cooley at the Trade Deadline, it was just a feel-good story, nothing more.

Cooley, after all, was an undrafted 26-year-old who had never played an NHL game. He hadn’t even really distinguished himself in the AHL either: In parts of four seasons, Cooley had a .900 Save % for the Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals, and Rochester Americans.

But the Sharks needed a goalie to pair with starter Mackenzie Blackwood. At the Deadline, they traded Kaapo Kahkonen for Vitek Vanecek, but Vanecek had a season-ending injury. Meanwhile, prospect Magnus Chrona was an option, but he was probably better served developing with the San Jose Barracuda in the AHL.

Cynically, the Sharks needed a feel-good story too, to take some of the heat off their fifth-straight season out of the playoffs.

GM Mike Grier, however, insisted on Mar. 8: “We made a trade for Devin Cooley, who our scouts had liked in the American League for the last few years, so he’ll get a chance to come up here and play some games with us.”

Grier Talks Hertl Trade, Plattner’s Reaction, Excitement for Edstrom (+)

Cooley, however, was shelled in his first two starts, surrendering nine goals on 61 shots in back-to-back losses to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks.

But maybe Grier, Sharks director of goaltending Evgeni Nabokov, and goaltending coach Thomas Speer are on to the something?

In his last two starts, both victories, Cooley has stopped 83 of 86 shots. Last Saturday against the St. Louis Blues at SAP Center, Cooley did a tap dance on the Blues’ faint playoff hopes, for his first NHL win. Then, on Thursday, Cooley made 49 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken.

That’s the sixth-most saves for a San Jose Sharks goalie in a regular season game, right behind, naturally, Cooley’s childhood hero, Nabokov, who made 50 stops in a 2010 contest.

Who knows the pending UFA’s next chapter?

But Cooley has become more than a feel-good story.

“I don’t care if he’s from Guam or San Jose,” head coach David Quinn said, “the fact that he’s stopping pucks like that, I’m glad he’s on our side.”

Devin Cooley

Cooley, on if he looked up, throughout the night, to see how many saves that he was racking up:

I check it every once in a while. But again, I just try to stay in the present moment.

I just keep repeating to myself, there are no thoughts, there is no future. There are no thoughts, there is no future. I just said that over and over and over again. So that way, I could just take it one save at a time.

I also say nothing matters. Nobody cares. Nothing matters. Nobody cares. So it keeps me grounded.

Like if I make a big save or I look up and I’m like one goal on 40 shots, I’m like I feel good, it’s just like, nobody cares.

Nothing’s really gonna matter. We’re all gonna die. (laughs) It sounds a little grim, but it helps keep me grounded. It helps keep me in the present moment.

That way, when I’m like oh shoot, two minutes left in the period, I gotta be so like intense, it keeps me more at peace.

I tell myself if they score four goals, they score four goals, and they come back and win, whatever, nothing matters. Nobody cares. It just keeps me grounded in the moment.

Mario Ferraro

Ferraro, on how Mikael Granlund and Luke Kunin have fit into greater leadership roles with the San Jose Sharks:

I don’t think they’ve really changed anything that they’ve done. They’ve always been good leaders.

Obviously, Granny has been in this league for a long time and he’s had a lot of successes. Super-awesome to see him continuing out here.

Kunny is one of those guys that’s willing to do what it takes to win. Puts his body on the line every night. Just leading by example, whether he has the “A” on his jersey or not. He’s been great.

It’s very well-deserved and they both have been fantastic.

David Quinn

Quinn, on the growth in Henry Thrun’s game:

He’s playing with a whole new level of confidence. Going through the year, there’s been some natural ups and downs for young players, especially for a defenseman in this league. I’ve said this a lot about him, one thing I love about him is he doesn’t let a bad play or a bad game get in the way of his development, which is very important at this level.

Quinn, on Kunin’s improvement as a center:

Overall, his game has gotten better and better. We’ve talked about him recovering from his injury. I think he’s feeling more comfortable. It’s a tough injury to recover from. I know you’re back within a year, but I think it takes a lot longer to be really back. I think you’ve seen his best hockey here over the last month and a half.

William Eklund

Eklund, on passing the puck to himself in the neutral zone on the Fabian Zetterlund goal:

I was just trying to keep it in the air a little bit. I was trying to wait for Zetterlund to come there. When he came, I tried to get it out to him, and it worked this time.

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