Tomas Hertl just wants to focus on hockey. Of course, that’s not going to be possible this year, with the impending UFA’s contract status hanging over everything.
Hertl, 27, is an almost point-per-game center, strong at both ends and the faceoff circle, who will command a king’s ransom, be it with the San Jose Sharks or from another team. He’s also, by all accounts, a fantastic locker room presence, and among fans, he might be the Sharks’ most popular player.
Hertl spoke to local media for the first time since last May, touching on his recent headline-grabbing Czech language interview, Evander Kane, and whether or not the San Jose Sharks want him back.
Here were some of the highlights — with my takeaways.
Tomas Hertl, on if he’s willing to take less money to play for a contender:
Jumbo was one of the guys, he could take way more money but he takes less because he wants a really good team.
I like that idea. You can go somewhere else, sign the maximum, maybe even too much, but you’re losing for the next eight years. I don’t want to be in this position.
Sheng’s take: I believe Tommy here. I don’t think he’s looking to set the market here or anything. Question is, do the San Jose Sharks look good enough that Hertl would consider staying on? They’ve missed the playoffs for the last two years and are saddled with a host of long-term contracts with aging vets, so probably not. But it’s also not just about this year — can Doug Wilson convince Hertl of San Jose’s long-term plan? Hertl says he and Wilson have yet to sit down and really talk about his contract.
Hertl, on if he feels the San Jose Sharks want him back:
After the end of the season, when I talked with Doug, he likes my game, he wants me to stay here longer. Even my agent said he wants me to stay. So I feel like he likes me and he wants me to stay here.
But we’ll see, end of the day for him, it’s business. He has to make the best decision for his team.
Sheng’s take: This seems to contradict the Czech interview — but is in line with everything that I’ve heard about how the Sharks see Hertl as a culture-driver a la Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski.
Hertl, on locker room issues with Kane last year and whether he’d personally welcome Kane back in the room, if Kane is cleared of sexual assault and domestic violence allegations:
I know guys are talking about it all the time. But what is in our room stays in the room.
He’s still part of the team. It’s up to us to handle stuff, everything in the locker room, so I don’t want to get really deep into it. But everybody wears the same Sharks logo — it’s between 20 guys in the locker room and it’s up to us to be the best for each other.
Sheng’s take: Once again, nobody is stepping up and saying the reports about the internal issues with Kane are untrue.
Hertl, on what gives him hope about this San Jose Sharks team:
I like our young guys. Last year was for a lot of young guys their first couple of games. It wasn’t easy because they don’t have pre-season.
I think Erik feels great. I think everybody in our room right now is healthy, starting with me, Cooch, and Erik. Nobody has an issue — everybody feels great and is ready to go.
We know we can play really good hockey. We still got a lot of good players and now we have to focus.
Sheng’s take: Interesting he mentions Erik Karlsson first — a revived Karlsson would obviously mean the world to this Sharks team. But it’s two years and counting since we’ve seen the artist formerly known as EK65 and he’s not getting any younger.
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