Erik Karlsson thinks that brighter days are ahead for the 0-9-1 San Jose Sharks.
It’ll just take some time, time that the 33-year-old Karlsson doesn’t have.
Karlsson, in the midst of an eight-year, $92 million contract signed with the San Jose Sharks in Jun. 2019, requested a trade last season, a year that saw him win his third Norris Trophy. GM Mike Grier traded Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins in August, getting back a protected 2024 first-round pick but also taking on Mikael Granlund, Mike Hoffman, and Jan Rutta’s unsavory contracts.
Karlsson is still chasing that elusive Stanley Cup, not likely to happen soon with the rebuilding Sharks.
“It’s an unfortunate part of the business and the cycle, where the team and the organization is right now,” Karlsson said today after practice at Tech CU Arena, admitting that because of the time difference, that he’s not able to catch many Sharks games. Tomorrow night will be Karlsson’s first game at San Jose since the trade.
“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking a little bit faster than I would have liked,” he said.
But Karlsson, as he consistently has since last summer, spoke highly of Grier, the steward of the rebuild, now under some fire after the Sharks’ winless start.
“The people that came in, the people that are trying to shape this, [are] good people,” he said. “They have good intentions and a purposeful plan.”
For what it’s worth, incoming GM Grier and head coach David Quinn had a plan last summer for how to revive Karlsson, who appeared to be close to the twilight of his career after four injury-shortened or relatively unproductive years in San Jose. They opened up how they played offensively, in part to cater to Karlsson’s strengths, and that, with some good injury luck, led to a 101-point campaign, the first time since 1991-92 that a defenseman eclipsed the century mark in points.
So Karlsson has seen the San Jose Sharks braintrust’s plans work out.
He advised patience, recalling a cellar-dweller that had just 48 points in 2016-17.
“Easy example is we look at Colorado six, seven years ago, where they were, there was no one who thought that they would be as dominant as they have been for the last couple of years and looking like they will be for the foreseeable future,” Karlsson said of the eventual 2022 Stanley Cup champs.
“Even though things are not looking the best, maybe right now, they’re going somewhere that’s gonna be for the better and going somewhere with a purpose. It’s just gonna need some patience and some time.”
Karlsson says he's going to see some of his #SJSharks teammates tonight: "I don't know where they're taking me or if I'm paying or how it works."
I told him he's paying. Karlsson responded, "I'm paying."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) November 3, 2023
But for sure, Karlsson, while happy to be see old friends and be back in the city of San Jose, is glad to not be part of a rebuilding 0-9-1 squad.
Instead, he can just back fondly on his five seasons in San Jose, filled with personal joy and highlighted by one shining moment on the ice.
“I created a family here,” he said of his two kids, Harlow and Stellan, both born here. “As for a memory that stands out, it’s probably that overtime win against Vegas at home here. I think that’s something that, it doesn’t matter how old I get, I don’t think I’ll forget that one.”
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