“This is Day 20 whatever for some guys, the longest road trip that we’ve ever been on.”
That’s what Logan Couture said this afternoon about the San Jose Sharks’ current sojourn, which started on Dec. 30 with the beginning of training camp in Scottsdale and has continued with regular season tilts in Arizona, St. Louis, and now Minnesota.
The “longest road trip” ever is about to get longer.
The San Jose Sharks announced this afternoon that they’ll be playing their first two home dates, scheduled for Feb. 1 and 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights, at Gila River Arena in Arizona.
The Sharks weren’t allowed to hold training camp at Solar4America Ice in San Jose because of the County of Santa Clara’s ban on contact sports, and this ban will continue through the Sharks’ first two home games.
The organization is hoping that the county will allow the Sharks back into SAP Center in time for their Feb. 13 and 15 home dates against the Anaheim Ducks. One thing is certain: They won’t be playing in Arizona, as the Coyotes are playing home games on those dates.
“We feel that we have put significant precautions in place, including daily COVID-19 testing of the athletes and support staff, to allow for us to safely return to play games at SAP Center, while not exposing the community to any additional health risk,” San Jose Sharks president Jonathan Becher said in a team press release. “In our discussions with County officials over the past several months, we have shared our detailed return-to-play plans and are hopeful that we can find practical solutions to this difficult situation very soon.”
By Feb. 13, the San Jose Sharks and their traveling staff will have amassed at least 45 days on the road. And that doesn’t include those who went to Arizona well before New Year’s Eve to quarantine or for logistical purposes.
Couture cautioned today, with all the uncertainty that the Sharks are facing, “You gotta prepare for even longer than that.”
On Feb. 26, the Sharks begin a six-game homestand against the St. Louis Blues. So if not by Feb. 13, will they be back in SAP Center by then?
Regardless, the NHL standings don’t care where the Sharks play, and Couture acknowledged that today.
“At this point, there are no excuses, no one’s going to feel sorry for us outside of our room. So we’re really just wasting our breath if we complain about it to anyone,” the San Jose Sharks captain said. “It’s up to us as a group to buckle down. It’s not like life isn’t good. We’re living our dream, playing in the NHL, getting to travel city to city. Things are still good, we gotta get out and perform.”
The Feb. 1 game time will be moved from 7:30 PM PST to 6 PM PST. The Feb. 3 contest will still be played at 7:30 PM PST, as it’s a nationally televised NBCSN broadcast.
It hasn’t been determined yet whether or not fans will be allowed to attend these games.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.