Welcome to the inner circle, Timo Meier.
“I think he’s just enjoying the confidence and the trust we have, because I think at times last year, and it went both ways, he didn’t think we trusted him. And sometimes we didn’t,” Bob Boughner shared today. “He knows that we have his back and he’s earned our trust.”
What a difference a year makes.
Meier is currently pacing the San Jose Sharks with 14 points in just 10 games, a career-best start. But it’s not just the scoring that’s made him an apple of the coaching staff’s eye.
“He’s come back more serious about his game. When I say that, Timo has always been a hard-working guy. He’s always been hard on himself and his own worst critic,” Boughner said. “He’s bought into knowing that he needs to be a 200-foot player, that’s going to give him success on the offensive side of things.”
I showed an example of that from Tuesday’s victory over the Minnesota Wild in another article where Boughner sings Meier’s praises – up 4-1, Meier turns it over in the offensive zone – but then, he backchecks hard to intercept the Wild breakout pass, advancing the puck in San Jose’s favor to boot:
Boughner hasn’t changed the message to Meier. It just seems like the San Jose Sharks’ 2015 first-round pick, after back-to-back disappointing seasons, is finally receiving it.
“We tried working with him a lot last year to improve the details of his game,” Boughner disclosed. “I thought he put a lot of pressure on himself last year. Sometimes, when we talked, it was more confrontational. This year, he’s more accepting of the teaching and the help.”
As Boughner noted, that trust is a two-way street. The 25-year-old is rewarding the San Jose Sharks for their patience with him, and in turn, the coaching staff is putting him in better positions to succeed.
“He’s playing on Cooch’s line, number-one,” Boughner pointed out.
This is a far cry from past seasons, where Meier has been demoted at times to the third or fourth lines. Case in point, last April:
Boughner, on demoting Labanc/Meier: "They were both horrible in the first period. They didn't deserve to play in the top-six. Or in the top-nine."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 18, 2021
But it appears to really be a new day for Meier. As another sign of their trust in Timo, Boughner has given Meier a coveted flank spot on the power play: “I think that’s something he’s always wanted to play.
“We had been, in the past, putting him net front, because we know he’s a big guy that takes up a lot of real estate around the net. But I think it freed him up a little bit on the power play to be on the flank. I think he’s enjoying that.”
Meier has also embraced a leadership role on the San Jose Sharks.
“Timo’s come back and tried to take on a little more of a leadership role in the dressing room,” Boughner said. “He’s been a lot more vocal. He’s taken some young guys under his wing.”
It took some tough love, but it looks like Timo Meier and the San Jose Sharks are finally reaping the benefits.
Boughner observed: “He looks like he’s just having a lot more fun.”
Only one in the Lou this regular season pic.twitter.com/PdCplaMGSA
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) November 18, 2021
San Jose Sharks (8-6-1)
— The Content Boyz (@LockedOnSharks) November 18, 2021
St. Louis Blues (8-5-2)
ICYMI yesterday, Berube has shaken up the forward combos and D pairs …
(Tonight's projected lineup)
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) November 18, 2021
Where to Watch
Puck drop against St. Louis is 5 PM PT at Enterprise Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California and ESPN+. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
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