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Labanc, Karlsson, Sharks Say Good-Bye to Meier



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Kevin Labanc slipped…or did he?

Last Sunday, a week before the San Jose Sharks traded leading goalscorer Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils, I asked Labanc how tough it might be for him personally if the team traded Meier.

“It’s gonna be hard to see him go,” Labanc shared, as if it was a foregone conclusion that Meier would be dealt. “Unfortunately, it’s a business. You wish him all the best.”

Labanc, naturally, caught his mistake seconds later: “You never know what can come out of these next two weeks, but there’s obviously a lot of buzz around it.”

But he pretty much knew, I pretty much knew, and so did San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn.

“It certainly seemed in the last few days, it’s just going to be the way it was gonna go,” Quinn admitted this afternoon, the day after the Meier trade was completed. “Timo and I had talked on Saturday, before the game, and probably the first time both of us acknowledged that this was probably going to be the way things are gonna play out.”

Now Timo is gone, the tributes came flowing out for a player who entered as a teenager into a veteran-laden, Cup-contending Sharks locker room – Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns – and leaves it as its go-to forward and San Jose’s finest draft pick since Tomas Hertl in 2012.

“It’s tough to lose Timo. Obviously, a tremendous player. He’s had a great Sharks career. Difficult to lose him,” San Jose Sharks lifer Logan Couture acknowledged. “He seemed excited and relieved that it’s all over.”

The captain added that he found out about the trade from Scott Harrington, also in the Meier deal, right before they were going to watch the Jake Paul fight.

Erik Karlsson just posted this tribute to Meier on Instagram:

Steven Lorentz added this note to Meier’s goodbye post:

Meier Knew Trade Was Coming, Thanks Sharks Fans

“He was an incredible player for us. He’s a great kid. He’s a great player. He’s an elite player in this league. And Jersey, got a hell of a player and a great kid,” Quinn gushed. “26-year-old power forwards that play with the edge that he plays with are not easy to find in this league.”

But back to Labanc.

I wasn’t asking him about Meier last Sunday to try to shake some info out of him.

No, 2014 sixth-rounder Labanc and 2015 first-rounder Meier literally grew up together in the San Jose Sharks system, and personally, I always saw them as peas in a pod, especially in the early years, when they were the young guys in a veteran Sharks locker room.

Labanc and Meier’s cross locker room banter was the highlight of this 2019 post-season story that I wrote about Labanc’s job of fishing out pucks before line rushes in warm-ups.

“We kind of started in the AHL together. We played our first pre-season game together,” Labanc, who’s about to become a father for the first time, recalled wistfully. “Play cards on the back of the plane, we were roommates our first three years. It was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of memories together.”

So who’s the better card player?

“Me,” Labanc smiled. “I’m not gonna let Timo have that one.”

Anyway, the clock has struck midnight on Timo Time with the San Jose Sharks. But for the boys who became men together?

“It’s not goodbye,” Labanc said, “it’s see you later.”

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