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Sharks Miss Couture, Sturm & Benning’s Compete

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

TORONTO – David Quinn was not happy on Saturday.

“I’m pissed off about our compete,” he said, after the San Jose Sharks lost 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at SAP Center, “our lack of effort. Consistent effort. There were shifts and moments, but that’s not good enough.”

Sharks Locker Room: Quinn ‘Pissed Off’ About Team’s Lack of Consistent Effort

Tuesday’s “response”, a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Maple Leafs, this time at Scotiabank Arena, was more of the same, but worse.

“We played really bad tonight. They outplayed us, outskated us. Everything,” Tomas Hertl said. “If you lose, we have to at least battle hard and do something. We ended up doing nothing.”

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Go back to last summer, GM Mike Grier signed Nico Sturm and Matt Benning with the expressed purpose that they would help the San Jose Sharks’ battle, make them a harder-to-play-against team.

So it certainly hasn’t been lost on Quinn that he’s missing both of them, along with captain Logan Couture.

“When you’re losing Benning, Sturm, and Couture, if you had to rank our most competitive players, they’d be in the top-five, all three of them. It hurts, for sure,” Quinn said.

Benning isn’t coming back this year.

On Jan. 4, the San Jose Sharks announced that Benning had undergone season-ending hip surgery.

Quinn confirmed on Sunday that Benning had been plagued, through a couple IR stints this season, by the same injury: “He and I talked, even when he was sitting, I said listen, you’re half a step behind, and we know why.”

Quinn said there wasn’t a particular moment of time when Benning suffered the injury.

“I think it’s been gradual. He’s been dealing with it,” he said. “Just hockey players all have issues with their hips.”

Benning is expected to make a full recovery in about five months.

On the bright side, Sturm and Couture should be back sooner than later for the San Jose Sharks.

Sturm believes that he should be available to play some time later this month.

Out since Dec. 12 because of right hand/wrist surgery, Sturm has advanced to being able to grip a stick and shoot and hopes to beat his original six-week injury timeline.

For what it’s worth, the Sharks are 9-14-3 with Sturm in the line-up, and 0-15-0 without

Sturm is aware of that stat, though he was sheepish when talking about it: “I don’t want to say the success of the team hinges on me. I would never say that about myself.”

Of course, there’s no hockey player who’s that kind of difference-maker. But there’s no doubt that the never-takes-a-shift-off Sturm is an underappreciated player, so he deserves whatever credit that he can get.

He’s also a never-takes-a-chance-to-skate-off player, which his teammates have commented on glowingly throughout his rehab.

With Sturm, there’s never a day off, or a shift off, which is the exact attitude that the cellar-dwelling San Jose Sharks need a lot more of.

Meanwhile, Couture is also never saying die on a lost season, as he keeps practicing hard to return from the lower-body injury that’s sidelined him since training camp.

There’s a strong optimism that Couture, who is traveling with the team to Toronto, will return to the line-up sometime during this five-game road trip.

Elliotte Friedman said yesterday, after a conversation with Couture, that he thinks the ex-Ottawa 67’ers star is hoping to be ready to play against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

So speaking of three of the standard bearers for compete on the San Jose Sharks, well, two of three coming back ain’t bad.

It won’t matter for San Jose’s playoff “hopes” and might hurt their slackin’ for Macklin – but it’ll also set the standard for young Sharks like William Eklund and Fabian Zetterlund and Henry Thrun and more, a standard that they’ll need if they’re going to be part of the next great Sharks squads.

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