In preparation to face the Detroit Red Wings at home tonight, the San Jose Sharks held a morning skate, to shake off the travel and the four-game road trip. Head coach David Quinn and defender Erik Karlsson met with media following practice to discuss their pregame thoughts, Nick Cicek’s debut, Bob Boughner’s return to the Bay and yes, those pesky trade rumors.
Here’s what they had to say:
On his message at the end of morning skate: We had a great road trip, but Detroit doesn’t care. They just went 3-and-1 on a road trip. We’ve got to do a better job at home winning hockey games. That’s the bottom line. We’ve been a pretty good road team — and we played some pretty good hockey at home, but the end of the day, we’re not getting the results that we need. We’ve got to build and take the good that just happened but also continuing to be cognizant of continuing to improve and not letting any type of success get in our way.
Detroit’s a good team. They lost the other night, they lost a couple in a row. But we’re going to be challenged tonight. And we’re going to make sure we’re starting this game on time.
On establishing their game at home: Like I said, we’ve played well, when some of the big miscues and key times have happened at home, which is unfortunate. But we gotta to continue to move forward and you’ll find ways to win at home. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be a good road, home team. And like I said, we’ve played well at home, but playing well and winning are two different things. We’ve gotta find ways to win hockey games here at home.
On statement wins and the team’s record: It’s growth. The thing that we feel good about is not only did we win, it wasn’t like our goalie had to make 45 saves in these wins. These were games that we won. You watch the games and you didn’t walk out thinking, boy, they stole one. We had some stretches — particularly first period against Vegas, we weren’t very good. But we rebounded. That happens in the National Hockey League, you’re not gotta have 60 great minutes every night. The key is if you have a bad period, how quickly can you rebound from it? And we did that throughout the road trip.
On the Karlsson trade talks: I haven’t talked to him about it. I’ve had plenty of conversations, I know how he feels about being here. This is pro sports, and everybody looks at what’s going on in our situation and makes a lot of assumptions, and they asked Mike questions. If Mike Grier isn’t talking to every team in the league throughout the course of the day, or trying to, and listening to people’s opinion on our players and interest in our players, he’s not doing his job. So I think you could ask the most general managers about the potential of moving a player and the question usually after that is “Well, who are you offering?”
(laughing) I don’t make a big deal out of it. Mike and I haven’t had one conversation regarding moving any of these players, and Mike and I talk every day. I get everybody’s questions to Mike, you know, what are you thinking about? I haven’t spent any time on it, I know Erik’s in a good spot. He’s playing great hockey. And we’re lucky to have him.
On balancing players’ feelings on wins and losses: I think it’s the ability to take the good and apply it in a positive manner, and don’t assume anything’s gonna happen. You’ve got to continue to work. You’ve got to have that competitive stamina, you know, day in and day out, shift in and shift out, game in and game out, to have success.
On Nick Cicek: The eye test — he passed the eye test. He played well. He did a good job. The first goal, I know you look at that, there was a lot of other things that happened. That never should have got to that point. The second one is just double coverage outside the dots, it’s something that he’ll do a better job of. He’s a quick learner, he’s coachable, but he’s a smart player, makes a good outlet pass, closes on people quick. He’s competitive. I liked what I saw.
He played hockey, right? He played with a swagger, and if you’re going to be successful in this league, you better have swagger. And that’s a big moment: you’re in Vegas, playing the Knights, best team in the National Hockey League record-wise and arguably the best team in the league, and he steps in acting like he was playing the Henderson ... whatever the hell they are. (laughing) Silver Knights!
It’s an audition for everybody, every day. We’re in the audition business.
On a timeline for Radim Simek: He’s getting better, and he hasn’t any setbacks. That’s good news. I don’t know exactly what his return date will be. It’s probably sooner than later.
On Barabanov: First of all, he’s got a great hockey strength. He really does a good job along the wall protecting pucks. He’s got a great sense of the game. He’s got great anticipation offensively. He’s skilled. He’s very competitive. I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s he’s had a really good start to the season. I know we missed him when we didn’t have him, but now that you have him, you really know that you missed him. He’s a good player.
On what it’s like to be let go as a head coach (such as Boughner): Well, for me, it was different. We were 0-and-5, and I was the head coach. I’m not just saying this — we were more, and I was way more, focused about [how] we didn’t win a hockey game. I didn’t care who was against.
I’m sure Bob’s got a lot of great memories here. He’s a heck of a coach. Obviously, we’ve all touched on the situation here over the last few years really been a byproduct of the success they’ve had. And all of a sudden, after 20 years, things change, because for a long time, you’re trading prospects and picks and you suffer as an organization. I thought he did a hell of a job keeping this together last year, to be close to 500. I mean, what was going on above them and all the challenges — this job is hard enough, but I thought he did a hell of a job under very, very difficult circumstances.
I know him a little bit. He’s a real good guy, and he’s a very good coach. He’s gonna be head coach in this league soon. I don’t think people appreciate the job he did here last year because this was not an easy situation.
On waiving his no-movement clause: No, I’m just playing right now. I understand Grier’s comments. He’s got to keep open mindset about everything regarding here, and he should.
That’s the way it goes, I’m just lucky that I come from a place where, you know, this kind of stuff, we’re on a regular basis, so I don’t read too much into it. I’ll let you guys debate, and talk about what-ifs and whatnot. I’m just getting ready to play every game, play the Detroit Red Wings, and that’s all that I worry about. That’s all I should worry about as a player, too.
On the upcoming road trip to Canada, and their media: I know when we’re going there. It’s going to be nice. It’s always fun to play in those environments, and against those teams. I’m looking forward to that, but, we get a lot of games in between. Like I said, I think I’ve always been a day-to-day person. That’s what this job kind of requires, so I do the things I can control. I’m hockey player, and that’s what I do. They have their jobs and that’s not anything I can control or worry about.
On his relationship with Grier: I think, first and foremost, [Grier’s] a good guy. He’s played the game fairly recently. He understands the situation that we’re in, and what we care about as a player, and what we value and think. He’s done a really good job, not only with me, but with everybody ever since he came in here. How he’s conducted himself and the way that he speaks — he says some things, but he doesn’t say a lot. He’s been observing, and that’s the position he needed to take. So far, I think he’s done a great job, not only with me, but with everybody in this entire organization. He’s gonna benefit from the things that he decides to do.
On imagining playing for another team: If that question ever arises, it’s going to be between me and Griersie. It has not. So there’s no point fro me to even think about that or speculate. Like I said, I’m fully invested here at the moment.
We’re in a situation where we need to win a few games here. And I’m just worried about the next one. That’s all I can control. All the other stuff, it’s nice for you guys have something to talk about. I’ll let you have at it. I’ll focus on the things that I can control. There’s no real change or difference in me, no matter what is going on.
On who has been reaching out over the last few days: The people that really know me, they know this business too and they’ve been around me enough that they’ve seen this kind of stuff before. It’s more just something to talk about, I guess. People are excited to listen to stuff and people are excited to talk about stuff, but I’ll leave that up to everybody else. I just do the things that I’ve always done which is play hockey.
On what’s gone right in the last few games: The atmosphere and then the crowd, the camaraderie and our spirit in here has been high since day one. We had a rocky start, we didn’t win as many games as we wanted, and we did some things for ourselves to end up there. As we’ve been winning here lately, I don’t think the mood had changed that much, which is a nice thing. That’s the way it has to be. We just try to focus on one game at a time. We still got some ways to go and we can’t look too far ahead because we still gotta win the next one, which is tonight. It doesn’t really matter if you won three in a row or if you lost three in a row, we did good job in preparing for each individual game. We’re gonna try and do the same thing tonight. Hopefully have a little bit more energy from being at home and sleeping in our beds for at least a couple of nights.
On Nick Cicek: It’s hard — first game, 15-20 games in, when everybody’s kind of acclimated, to go in and play a team like Vegas, it’s not easy. He did a good job, I think. They played a lot of minutes against their top line, and I think he did a good job. All that other circumstantial stuff, you can’t really worry too much during the game, you still gotta finish it. If you want to sit and sulk about it, you can do that after.
On Daniel Alfredsson’s Hall of Fame speech: It was good. He did a really good job. I spoke to him recently, and I said, it’s not easy when you have to have a 10 minute-plus speech about not just hockey stuff and answering questions. But he was well-prepared. He put a lot of time in to make sure in that moment he could enjoy it as much as he possibly could. From my understanding, he had a great time, and they put on a great show up there. They do a good job in Toronto, and honoring guys that, you know, it’s going back into the game. He had a fantastic time, so I’m happy for him. It’s unfortunate I couldn’t be there, but that’s the way it plays out sometimes.
On if something has been wrong with his skates: (laughing) No. The one in Minnesota was an ice thing. The one in Vegas, I don’t know what happened. I told [Megna], I tried to go D-to-D, and he abandoned me. (smiling) But I don’t know, I think it was just a fluke. Hopefully I don’t have a ghost following me around, tripping me up.
On the Sedins being inducted to the Hall of Fame: They came in at a time where the hockey was a little more grittier. They elevated the beauty of the game. Obviously their connection is unspoken for and that’s rare to find. Just the way that they played alongside each other for their entire careers and did as good a job as they did. They were obviously a big figures for a lot of people in Sweden growing up, and I was very fortunate to have played with them on the national team and against them unfortunately for quite some time. They were deserving of it. They helped evolve the game into into what it is today.
*Lightly edited for clarity and length.