Tomas Hertl shook up San Jose Sharks nation yesterday.
In an interview with Jan Daněk of iDNES.cz, the impending UFA said, “I do wonder whether they’ll want to extend me in San Jose, and if I myself will want to stay on.”
That was just a taste from a compelling interview, too newsworthy to not translate into English more fully and with 100 percent accuracy. To that end, I asked friend of the site Tomas Danicek to translate the most San Jose Sharks-relevant portions of the interview.
Besides his future in San Jose, Hertl touched on his desire to be with a perennial contender, the example that Joe Thornton set for him in that regard, and the Evander Kane situation.
And if you read Czech (or just want to use Google Translate), you should definitely read Daněk’s original interview – there’s excellent stuff about Hertl’s summer fun at Euro 2020 and how having COVID-19 actually helped him last year.
iDNES.cz: Now you’re entering your 9th NHL season…
Tomas Hertl: It flew by! The funniest thing is when fans come to me and say: We started attending hockey games in San Jose thanks to [that goal against the Rangers] in your first year. I’m very glad people remember it, but I immediately respond: Even this season I’ve scored a couple of goals, you know, this was eight years ago!
Time flies. I’ve got 500 games under my belt, but I’m not done.
iDNES.cz: What’s lacking for you to be satisfied?
TH: I’m still looking to add the Stanley Cup.
I’ve watched on as Tampa won it twice in 10 months. Pat Maroon has collected three Cups in the past three years, but guys like Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau have got none, even though they’ll soon be inducted into the Hall of Fame and have accumulated tons of points and games. They just don’t have the necessary luck.
For me, it’s mostly about staying healthy. I know I can play hockey, which I’ve proven over the last three years. It’s an open question how it will work [out].
iDNES.cz: And will it work?
TH: San Jose is in a more difficult situation now than what we are used to. In my first few seasons we had deep Stanley Cup runs. But the last two years were very hard, because we knew with a couple of games to spare that we won’t even make the playoffs.
iDNES.cz: Do you feel the San Jose Sharks are rebuilding and the prospect of winning the Stanley Cup [with them] is waning?
TH: One can’t think about it. There are still plenty of guys who’ve been to a Stanley Cup Final – Burns, Vlasic, Couture, myself.
Once the season gets underway, I’ll fight for the Cup even if there are 19 new faces on the roster. I don’t want to just take part. Teammates will tell you I’m a sore loser even in practice.
iDNES.cz: Tell us yourself then.
TH: In the Michael Jordan documentary [on Netflix], I discovered this game where you throw a coin and whoever’s coin lands nearest the line wins. If I’m losing, I could spend the whole day chugging the coins away, just to win the money back. I don’t care how, but I want to win.
I’m going into this season with my mindset on being the best and most valuable player on the team.
iDNES.cz: Do you think of this being your contract year?
TH: I do wonder whether they’ll want to extend me in San Jose, and if I myself will want to stay on.
I don’t want to let it in my head, so it doesn’t affect me, though. I’ll open the season and see where it takes me.
I’m glad I’ll see plenty of ice time. In the NHL, I’m now a bit of a household name as a center, I play 18-20 minutes per game. And I’d like to see my reputation grow even greater.
iDNES.cz: I take it that you’d prefer team success to a lucrative contract?
TH: I’m born to win. A team may offer you a fantastic contract, but you feel you wouldn’t win anything with them. Elsewhere you could earn less but win more.
Look at Landeskog. He wanted to stay in Colorado where he saw his future. He took less money compared to what he could’ve gotten elsewhere.
iDNES.cz: I understand.
TH: Boston is also built in a smart way with Bergeron, Marchand, or Pasta earning a relative little.
But look at Toronto where everyone is loaded, but they always crash out early in the playoffs. I remember how it went with Joe Thornton here [in San Jose].
iDNES.cz: How did it go?
TH: He told us: I’ll take a contract for three years with less money, but I want to be paid back in trophies.
MacKinnon has the same philosophy. One’s got to consider that, too. If I was to change the sweater, I want to go to a place where success grows.
Whether those teams would actually want me, however, is another matter altogether. Hard to say, but who knows. Maybe San Jose has a plan, too. And maybe I don’t fit into it either.
iDNES.cz: Any signals of that yet?
TH: More from journalists who suggest that the club would get the biggest return for me. From the [front office] itself, nothing is getting to me. No signal even of them wishing to extend me.
One never knows what the thinking of the bosses is. I try not to think about it myself.
iDNES.cz: Does it comfort you that capable centers are usually in high demand in the NHL?
TH: Somehow, yes. Last season, I was often matched up with the other top lines and we proved an equal match to lines such as the MacKinnon one in Colorado. I can’t say I’m as fast as him, but I’m capable of defending him.
I’ve also worked on becoming one of the best centers on faceoffs. They say center is the most difficult role to play. You’ve got to be strong in the face-off circle, you’ve got to communicate with your D-men and defend. And once you stop McDavid or MacKinnon, you still need to be able to support the offense.
As a center, it’s my advantage that I’m comfortable on the wing too. It usually doesn’t work the other way round.
iDNES.cz: Evander Kane has been your frequent linemate, and he’s a bit of a bad boy. He’s filed for bankruptcy. He’s divorcing his wife who’s accused him of betting on his own games. Teammates complain about him. What’s your own view of him?
TH: I’ve got to say, with his troubles I couldn’t even enter the dressing room. Perhaps I couldn’t even get off my bed in the morning. I don’t think I’m alone in that, yet he’s managed it and had a really good season. Other than that, I’d rather not talk on the matter. It’s his own business.
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