It is nothing less than the worst team in the National League since the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton which comes to the Bell Center to face the Canadian this Thursday.
That wasn’t visible in Wednesday’s training, that said. The always charismatic David Quinn, head coach of the team, tried to inject some enthusiasm into his group as best he could.
” Good start. It makes us feel less like shit, right? “, he shouts after an exercise. At the end of the session, he organizes a competition between the white sweaters and the turquoise sweaters. The first team with five wins, the team that loses must do 25 push-ups. “I’m with the turquoise ones,” he shouts. In the end, it was White who won, forcing Quinn to get on his stomach and also do the 25 push-ups.
“I could have done 25 more, I’m ready! », he joked to the three journalists at a press briefing afterwards.
It was also festive in the locker room, where goalie Mackenzie Blackwood puffed a pipe at an equipment attendant, where players tried to agree on which restaurant to go to for dinner in town.
However, the good mood should not make us forget the reality, cruel, to put it mildly. On Tuesday, the Sharks suffered their 12th straight loss, a 7-1 beating at the hands of the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
“Many people have never experienced anything like this, including me,” he continued. You can’t Google: “How do you deal with a losing streak of this magnitude in the NHL?” and get a response. You have to find solutions. That was the goal today. I said we felt like shit after the loss yesterday [Tuesday]. Today, let’s try to feel less like shit. »
This Tuesday match concluded a horrible first half of the season. Season which must however continue, because unlike the V.I.P. show, the Sharks cannot close the door before the end of the financial year.
In figures, here is how their failures translate:
Marc-Édouard Vlasic is one of the rare survivors of the Sharks’ period of glory. Arriving in the NHL in 2006, the defenseman participated in the playoffs 12 times in his first 13 seasons, with one appearance in the final in 2016 and three other appearances in the final four. Years when the Sharks embodied a model of stability.
“It’s not fun to lose,” admitted the Quebecer after training. When you’re competitive, when you show up for every match, it’s less hard, you can accept defeats. There, we can’t really accept defeats, since we don’t show up. We get beat 7-1, 5-1, 10-2. It’s a little harder, but every day I’m here, I’m in a good mood, I love playing hockey, I still do it after 18, I still love it. »
Vlasic says he’s still enjoying himself and it showed in his enthusiasm on the ice on Wednesday. After the interview, he let his teammates head back to the hotel and stopped to sign autographs for kids from a local minor hockey team who had attended practice.
So much the better if he likes it, because he’s basically taken in San Jose. The Quebecer has an agreement valid until 2026, worth seven million dollars per season. Its use is decreasing year by year; he’s playing just under 14 minutes per game this season when he plays. Left out on Tuesday, he will return to training on Thursday for this duel in front of his loved ones.
“It’s our home and every time I’m here, I play good hockey,” he said.
Except that in the long term, reconstruction promises to be tedious. In the last six drafts, San Jose has drafted in the top 20 only twice: those were for forwards William Eklund, who is playing his first full season with the Sharks, and Will Smith, still in the NCAA. The team has not reached the point where tomorrow’s core members occupy important roles. There are still many veterans in the middle or at the end of their careers, such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair and Jan Rutta.
“When I arrived, we were used to being one of the best teams. We were pampered, noted Vlasic. Hoping that things change quickly and that we don’t experience this for five or six years. I don’t think that’s the plan. They want to have a fairly competitive team quickly. I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but Mike Grier is the GM, it’s up to him to put this together! »