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Sharks Locker Room: Couture, Vlasic, Hertl Turn Back Clock for Fans

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

It was a blast, and a couple blasts from the past for San Jose Sharks fans tonight.

Logan Couture made his season debut, assisting on Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s game-opening goal. Tomas Hertl capped the 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks with an empty-netter.

Currently, these are your three longest-tenured Sharks, all holdovers from the glory years, that 15-year stretch when the franchise missed the playoffs just once. Between captain Couture and alternate captain Hertl and defensive stalwart Vlasic, that’s 2,900 regular season games, all in San Jose, and hundreds of playoff tilts.

“Fun night,” Couture said of his season debut, personally important also because it’s the first game that his new-born son Kaden was able to experience. “I don’t know if we could’ve scripted it any better.”

Kyle Burroughs and Jan Rutta also scored, their firsts with the Sharks, and Fabian Zetterlund added another to his breakout campaign. Mackenzie Blackwood made 31 saves and earned his first Sharks assist.

But tonight was about Couture, coming back from Osteitis pubis, an injury so debilitating that head coach David Quinn feared at times he would not be able to play at all this season. And by extension, it was about Vlasic and Hertl, who joined their fellow Sharks lifer to give a sold-out crowd a taste of yesteryear.

Couture Reveals Injury That’s Sidelined Him All Season

Couture spoke poignantly of that time in Montreal, during the San Jose Sharks’ recent road trip there: “Pickles, myself, Tommy Hertl have been here through a lot of the good old days. We find ourselves reminiscing some days, and you got to remind yourself that those days are long gone and look forward to the future here.”

There isn’t a lot to look forward to immediately for the 11-31-4 Sharks, of course. But for one night, the fans who braved the heavy rains got to hear SAP Center rocking a little like the good old days.

Logan Couture

Couture, on Vlasic crashing into him after their goal:

(laughs) He almost put me through the end wall. He’s a big boy.

Couture, on why tonight was special:

My first game in a long time, first game where my son was able to be at for the first period. Saw him in warm-ups. So there’s a lot of things going through my head there. It almost felt surreal when I stepped down on the ice.

Couture, on why it was so special to assist on a Vlasic goal:

That’s why we call it the French Connection. That’s what he calls it, something we’ve been doing for many, many years. He’s a funny guy.

Couture, on his Buffalo Bills, who are playing the Kansas City Chiefs in a playoff game tomorrow:

(laughs) I don’t know what I’ll be more nervous for, today or tomorrow.

Tomas Hertl

Hertl, on how happy that he was for his friend Rutta’s goal:

(smiles) He was telling me great tip, I said no, that’s your goal. He was actually funny before the game, he told me I will be more offensive today. He was just making jokes. Definitely happy for him.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

David Quinn

Quinn, on Nico Sturm’s return:

He takes such great care of himself. He doesn’t miss many beats when he’s out. Just having those two guys [Sturm and Couture] in the line-up really lengthens our line-up. We just looked better. If you had to rate our competitive players, they’re probably at the top of the list.

Quinn, on Anthony Duclair’s performance:

I thought he played really well. I really did. He had a great scoring chance. He was around the play all night long, competitive.

Quinn, on Fabian Zetterlund’s goal:

He’s a heck of a kid and a really good player. You see why we traded for him.

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