It’s hard to believe that Logan Couture is an NHL veteran now. It seems it wasn’t that long ago when he burst onto the scene near the tail end of the 2009-10 campaign and became a staple during the Sharks’ playoff run.
Couture just finished his sixth full NHL season and, perhaps a little awkwardly, wears the ‘veteran’ tag now. Coming off an incredible postseason performance where he led the Sharks in points and a title in the World Cup of Hockey, it seems everything is peaking for the center.
To top off that nifty list of recent achievements, Couture was selected as the cover athlete for a new mobile game from 2K Sports. NHL SuperCard 2K17 is a trading card game, which intrigued Couture as he collected NHL cards as a kid.
“The idea intrigued me of this new video game and bringing the cards into play,” said Couture. I collected cards when I was younger and I think it’s something that’ll build the game of hockey and I think it’ll have a big impact with kids that already collect cards.”
So at least we got one Shark on a video game cover this year, right?
As far as taking a step forward as a unit and bringing San Jose its first Stanley Cup, Couture said they learned a lot from their last postseason but doesn’t see the need for sweeping changes. That makes sense, given the Sharks were two wins away from a title.
“We had a great run last year and we learned a lot and how tough it is to win in this league,” said Couture. “It’s going to take a lot to get to the playoffs and then to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. We need to start the season well.”
One of the new additions to the team is Mikkel Boedker, who Couture has spent some time with in training camp. Both were at the World Cup of Hockey for the maximum time, so there’s plenty of room for the chemistry of that line to grow.
“It’s obviously a tough position for him to be coming in as a new player and miss most of training camp because of the World Cup of Hockey,” said Couture. “He’s very quick and I think they’re both playing their off wing and it’s going to be fun. They both like having the puck and they both like playing it so it’s my job to get it to them.”
Here’s the rest of my interview with Couture:
After having a short offseason how are you feeling both physically and mentally?
“I’m excited to play tomorrow. We just had a practice this morning and you can feel that the season’s about to start and we’re really looking forward to tomorrow tonight. Playing in front of our fans, obviously last time we saw ‘em it was an unfortunate ending but throughout the playoffs the energy we got from them was great.”
How was the World Cup of Hockey?
“It was an incredible honor. It’s something I hadn’t done for 10 years or so, it had been a while, and it was something I was really looking forward to. They treat you so well and the second you put on that jersey the expectation is to win. You’ve got guys who play big minutes, so just to be a part of that squad... That experience was spectacular.
I know you’re from the area, what was it like playing in Toronto with the fans on your side?
“It was special. Canadian hockey fans are as passionate as they come. When you watch it on TV you always hope that you’ll get a chance to take part in it. They’re into it, that last game it was great. It was a loud building.”
How do you feel health wise?
“I feel good now. When I first came back it was a little tough. There’s an area in my skate that I felt it was driving a little bit and it was difficult and it’s something I had to learn to manage in terms of game management and recovery. But in the last 20 games or so I was feeling like myself again.”
You’ve played with Thornton your whole NHL career, and now with Team Canada, what is it about him that has allowed him to be as good as he is at his age?
“I think that it’s just the love of the game of hockey and the excitement he has to play it. He still comes to the rink like he’s a 19 year old and he has that excitement that he gets to play hockey every day. When you come into the NHL and see a guy like that and who has done everything in the game and is still that excited you feed off of it.”
You’re kinda entering a similar part of your career where you’re a veteran guy on the team, how have you changed as a player and a person since you kinda burst onto the scene in 2010?
“This is my eighth season now and they really have flown by. I still remember my first game in the league and the years just fly by. This is really the first time where the years just kinda flow over onto each other. I try not to change much as a player other than trying to improve of course. I want to get better every year. As a person, trying to be a leader and trying to help out with the young guys. We don’t have too many guys that are young, we’ve got a really experienced team, but helping the guys that are there.”
Do you like these long road trips like the one you’ll start on game two early in the year?
“I enjoy it. It’s something that we do every year, we always start on the road ever year in San Jose. It’s good when you have new players so you can just spend some time with them and you just grow together and bond together on long plane rides. It’s always tough when you have a long flight and time changes, that first game especially is difficult, but you gotta do it. All the teams have to go through it. The biggest thing is trying to get a win in the first or second game. “
Do you think winning that first game is important from a confidence perspective?
“I think so, they kinda snowball into each other and things usually go. That win streak I wasn’t actually playing at the time, but guys were so excited to get back out there. Then next thing you know they swept a six-gamer.”
Do you identify anything in particular to correct entering this year?
“There’s never one thing, no. I think that we had a great year. It’s not really a ton I would change from last year. We’re hoping some of our younger players continue to move forward.”
Do you identify one team in the Pacific as your biggest competition for a division title?
“No, not really. We go night by night by the team that we play. We go into a hockey game and focus on our own game and don’t focus on the opposition. I believe that we can win every night.”
Will there be any extra trash talk given the Sharks ended the Kings’ season?
“We don’t really do stuff like that. There’s a rivalry there though with all the northern California/southern California teams. So it’s a rivalry and the fans get into it. It’s an exciting game to be into and you can kinda feel it on the way to the tank.
How, if at all, has the team changed under Pete DeBoer?
“There’s a lot of similarities, there are some subtle differences though. Special teams, penalty kill and power play is a big thing with Pete. He wants us to play fast and to get to the other team’s end and use our points and really expand the zone and shoot the puck and get it back. It’s the same way Todd wanted us to play.