The San Jose Sharks officially kicked off training camp on Thursday at Sharks Ice and Tech CU Arena in San Jose. This time around, camp is slightly shortened due to the Sharks’ participation in the 2022 NHL Global Series, which will see the team travel to Germany for a preseason game against Eisbären Berlin on October 4, as well as opening the regular season with a series against the Nashville Predators in Czechia that weekend.
With a number of changes made from the top and all the way down in the off-season, it’s no surprise that every player is coming into camp on a more or less even playing field. Every spot is up for grabs, so players only have a brief training camp to make a good impression.
Following Friday’s practice and brief scrimmage, goaltender James Reimer and winger Kevin Labanc spoke with the media about the team’s approach to the upcoming season.
On his thoughts on the upcoming season: Good, excited. Obviously, there’s been a lot of change, a lot of turnover, but I’m excited for a new chapter here. We’ve been working hard creating some structure and a good foundation here. The last two days have been really encouraging and positive as can be.
On his mindset: I say goaltending is 130 percent mental and the rest is skill. For me, as a goaltender, you really focus on what you can control — I stop pucks, I help my team win.
On preparing for the season: Every season, there are always things you try and work on and improve, and this off-season was no different. I won’t give away my secrets, but there are one or two things we worked on hard this summer, and I feel like I got a little bit better at them, so I’m looking forward to how it plays out.
On coming back: Never felt better, I feel great. I’m just chomping at the bit to get back into it. Just excited to be back in the locker room with the guys.
I’ve always been confident in my game — I have a lot of good hockey left in me. It’s just a matter of going out there, playing hard, and showing them I can play this game well and help the team win games this year.
On David Quinn’s coaching philosophy: I like it a lot. He wants a quick, fast, hard and heavy game. He wants you to always move your feet, and I think he’s got some really good systems. It’s only day two of camp, so we still have a lot of systems and games to learn before we head out to Czech or Prague, but I’m excited. We have a great locker room right now, so it feels good to be playing with everyone.
On his halted road back to the team last season: I felt good, but it’s just one of those things you don’t want to rush — if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it right. I feel great, my shoulder feels really stable, strong. I’ve just been really putting in the time and effort in the gym and on the ice, doing physical therapy. I really did my homework and made sure that it’s where it needs to be.
I wanted to play a game [before the end of the season], but if you fall the wrong way or you take a hit the wrong way, the next thing you know, you’re out until training camp. I think it was all just precaution and taking my time with it.
On working on a line with Lindblom and Couture: It feels good playing with those guys — Cooch, Lindy and I were pretty on par with each other, buzzing off each other. I really like our line, everyone’s got a lot of skill and everyone competes hard. We’ll see where that takes us in the season. We had good chemistry right off the bat, so that’s something that every player looks for, so you might as well take that.
On the pressure coming into camp: It’s not just a clean slate for me, it’s a clean slate for everybody, so everyone has to perform. Mike [Grier], he’s a pretty fair guy, so he’s going to give everybody an opportunity to showcase themselves. At the same time, it’s up to the players to prove themselves. Everybody’s battling, everybody’s training hard. At the end of the day, we’re a team and we’re trying to make each other better.
On his mindset: For me, I play hard wherever I’m put. Whether it’s fourth line, third line, second line, first line, it doesn’t matter to me, I’m going to play hard, I’m going to do everything I can to help the team win. That’s the mindset, that’s the mentality. I know I have the offensive ability to help the team put the puck in the net — that’s where I think I excel most in my game. I think the rest will take care of itself, we just have to make sure we get off to a good start.
On coming back strong in the off-season: Every off-season is important, it doesn’t matter where you are — in the NHL or in the line-up. I really took the onus on myself to make sure that I was going to do everything I can to come back 100 percent safe and help this team out.
Mike Ricci, I worked on a few things with him — edge work, skating, shooting, hanging around the net. Just a whole bunch of stuff, getting my range of motion in my shoulders. It was a busy off-season, every day was packed with recovery and trying to get better.
On his approach to this season: I think it’s going to be a good start. Every game, we’re going to be competing, we’re going to be working hard. Once we start playing the preseason games, we’re going to have a better idea of who’s what and where, kind of getting an idea of Dave’s philosophy. It’s going to be good. The biggest thing is just working hard, coming to compete every day, having a great start to the season so that we’re not flat-footed or chasing games later in the season.
*Lightly edited for clarity.