After being a healthy scratch in each of the team’s first three games, San Jose Sharks forward Kevin Labanc will make his season debut on Thursday.
Yes, Labanc is still with the Sharks — he’s not getting waived.
The 27-year-old winger found himself on the outside looking in following a preseason plagued by injury and disappointment.
“It’s been a tough camp for him because he’s been hurt and he’s a little bit behind the eight-ball,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “He got better health-wise but wasn’t ready to play at the level we needed him to and it took him four extra days.”
Labanc was a key piece for the Sharks last season, tying for fifth on the team in goals with 15, but Quinn wanted to see him excelling in different areas of the game before he put him back in the lineup.
“We were just talking about making sure I was in on the forecheck, giving it my all, finishing hits and doing the little things right,” Labanc said. “Getting good shots through and creating a little bit of offense at the same time.”
“He can be a pain in the ass to play against,” Quinn said.
Labanc did not take lightly to being scratched the first three games and quickly proved himself in practice as the first week of the season progressed.
“He handled it in the right way,” Quinn said. “I didn’t want him to be happy that he was sitting out, and again, he needed to catch up because he missed some time. So I think there was a lot that went into these decisions and some [other forwards] gave honest, hard efforts for the first two games.”
But after the San Jose Sharks were knocked down by the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 on Tuesday, Quinn will give Labanc his shot tonight, over Jacob Peterson, against the Big Bad Bruins.
“If he hadn’t been practicing the way he had, he wouldn’t have been in the lineup,” Quinn said. “He’s put himself in a good position. This is a guy who is an established NHL’er and he’s gonna be a big contributor this year is what I’m banking on. No pun intended.”
“I just have to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to help win the game for the guys,” Labanc said. “I’ve been in the league for eight years now, so this is just another day.”
Labanc is entering the final year of his contract and will be a UFA after this season. The winger has been in teal for his entire career, since San Jose drafted him in the sixth round of the 2014 Draft.
“When you are in the last year of your contract, I’m sure it weighs on guys. And it’s a big deal,” Quinn said. “Sometimes, your careers have peaks and valleys. It’s not every year is great. I think he’s ready to have a good year.”
SAN JOSE SHARKS (0-2-1)
BOSTON BRUINS (2-0-0)
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.
Get SJHN in your inbox!
Extra Hour Hockey Training
Cathy’s Power Skating
SJHN Daily: Emberson, Carpenter Placed on IR
3 Plays I Liked From Addison Last Night (+)
Sharks Locker Room: Starting To Score, Still Not Defending
Sharks Almost Author Great Comeback, Lose 6-5 to Rangers
Sharks Back in Time: The Most Notable Trades of the Decade
Patrick Marleau’s Favorite San Jose Restaurants
Sharks Locker Room: Quinn Addresses Job Security After 0-10-1 Start
Everything Grier Said: From Plattner to Quinn to Celebrini (+)
SJHN Daily: Ex-Jr. Sharks Coach Kevin Whitmer Arrested for Sexual Assault on Minor
Winners & Losers From Calen Addison Trade
Should Sharks Trade or Keep Blackwood?
Sharks Locker Room: Hertl, Quinn Bemoan Powerless 5-on-3
Sharks Locker Room: Quinn Likes How Team Stood Up to Wilson, Bailey ‘Starving’ for NHL Shot
Sharks Locker Room: Quinn Praises Eklund’s ‘More Complete’ Game, Hertl on Blocking Out Outside
Sharks Locker Room: Duclair, Ferraro, Quinn Talk Turkey of a Performance
Sharks Team & Cap Info
SJHN on Facebook