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Rutta Happy To Be Part of Sharks’ Rebuild, But Will Miss Hertl



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

When looking at how the San Jose Sharks are doing this season, it can be easy to look at it through a negative lenses.

But Jan Rutta thinks differently.

“It depends on how you look at it,” the 33-year-old defenseman said in Pittsburgh on Thursday. “I mean, the team isn’t doing great, but it is what it is. The team is rebuilding.

“We have a couple young guys and I enjoy playing here. It’s been a tough year, but I’ve just been having fun competing.”

As someone who got traded to the Sharks from a competitive Pittsburgh Penguins team last summer, Rutta could easily complain, but he doesn’t.

Even after watching a good friend and countryman in Tomas Hertl get dealt at the Trade Deadline and even with his own name in rumors, Rutta was happy to stay put. Rutta is signed for one more year after this season at $2.75 million AAV, and he’s playing a career-high 19:32 a night.

“I like it here,” the two-time Stanley Cup winner said. “We have great young prospects and working with them keeps me younger. I’m pretty happy to stay, to be honest.”

Rutta found out that he had to pack his bags and move from Pittsburgh to San Jose in the middle of rehabbing from a core muscle surgery he had in April. The Penguins had just missed the playoffs.

Rutta spent the first two months of the off-season rehabbing before getting a life-altering phone call in August.

“I was happy to get done with the surgery, but the rehab was a long process,” Rutta said. “When I got traded, I wouldn’t say it was shocking, I knew changes were happening after that season ended in disappointment, so I didn’t take anything for granted, but it’s extra stuff to deal with like moving and stuff.”

Rutta was included in the mega-deal which brought Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Aug. 6, and sent Rutta, Mikael Granlund, and Mike Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks.

In total, nine players and three draft picks were involved to get the deal done.

Even after making a three-year commitment to the Penguins the previous offseason, Rutta knew change would be coming when Kyle Dubas took over as the team’s general manager that summer.

He wanted to bring in his guys, and Rutta happened to be one of the pieces needed to bring in the big fish.

“When you get a new front office, they probably want to do things their own way,” Rutta said. “You’ve got salary caps and contracts and stuff, as a player, you can only control that much.”

Rutta just witnessed another blockbuster deal when his good friend and fellow countryman, Hertl, was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights at this year’s Trade Deadline.

“It was shocking,” Rutta said. “I obviously wish him nothing but the best, but I am definitely going to miss him as a friend.”

Even with the San Jose Sharks and the Golden Knights discussing the deal for over a month, Rutta did not know about it until hours before it broke.

“It was crazy,” Rutta said. “I was hanging out with him everyday and he kept it pretty under wraps. I don’t know what happened during the talks, but he only told me a few hours before it actually leaked.

“I was super happy for him because he is a great player. For him to have a chance at a deep run, I am super happy for him. But from a selfish standpoint, I am going to really miss him as a friend everyday in the locker room.”

But ice goes on, and Rutta is ready for it. Out since Mar. 7 with a lower-body injury, Rutta has participated in practice for two straight days, and is tracking to play for the San Jose Sharks some time during this road trip.


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