Chicago Blackhawks v San Jose Sharks

Under Pressure: Joe Thornton


“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the San Jose Sharks, we pick… Joe Thornton.

To be fair, Thornton could be the pick every year. So what makes the 2013-14 campaign different?

First, there’s his contract situation.

Thornton’s three-year, $21 million deal expires at the end of this season. Traditionally, the Sharks have wrapped up Jumbo Joe well before free agency — in 2007, he signed a three-year, $21.5 million extension with a year left on his current deal and, in 2010, agreed to a three-year pact (for $21 million) hours prior to the Sharks’ home opener.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson has confirmed talks with Thornton’s camp about another extension. Thing is, circumstances have changed since ’07 and ’10.

Thornton is now 34 years old. While he’s the captain, arguably the greatest player in Sharks history and the franchise’s lone Hart Trophy winner, it could be argued this isn’t “his team” anymore.

Logan Couture, the team’s budding 24-year-old star, signed a five-year, $30 million extension this summer. He’s been pegged as a future captain and began undertaking a leadership position last season, when head coach Todd McLellan praised Couture for elevating “into an elite role” and “driving our bus.”

The Sharks also made an equally large investment in 29-year-old Joe Pavelski, signing him to a five-year, $30 million extension as well. Pavelski emerged as a clutch performer for San Jose this past postseason, scoring 12 points in 11 games.

So there’s Thornton’s pending free agency, and San Jose’s changing of the guard. What else? How about ’13-14 being Thornton’s chance to alter the narrative of his Sharks career.

Despite all the statistics and hardware, Thornton’s time in San Jose is defined by a lack of playoff success. In eight years, his lone postseason highlights are two trips to the Western Conference finals… in which the Sharks went a combined 1-8.

(In a telling stat, Pavelski and Couture finished one-two in team playoff scoring last year. Thornton was third.)

That’s not all Thornton has on his plate this year, either — he’ll be angling for an Olympic spot as well. Though he missed August’s orientation camp due to a family illness, Thornton was one the 47 players invited to participate and one of only two that played for Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup, 2006 and ’10 Olympics (Roberto Luongo is the other). He’s one of Canada’s most decorated international players, having won gold at the World Juniors, World Cup and Olympics, and he’d love to represent his country once more.

So to recap: All Thornton’s playing for this year is a new contract, a chance at the Olympics and — potentially — defining his legacy in San Jose.

No pressure, Joe.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

Bylsma: ‘We need to get more’ out of Reinhart

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Sam Reinhart #23 of the Buffalo Sabres warms up before the game against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Sam Reinhart has two assists through four games this season, and Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has made a move with the hope of getting the 20-year-old forward going offensively.

As per John Vogl of the Buffalo News on Sunday, Reinhart has been moved to the middle between Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons, while Matt Moulson was moved to the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

Reinhart, a 23-goal scorer from last season, had two assists through the first two games, but has been kept off the score sheet in Buffalo’s last two contests.

Outside of that six-goal outburst versus Edmonton last weekend, scoring has been an issue for the Sabres early in the season. So adjustments to the forward combinations is to be expected.

“Sam needs to get a little bit more feet moving, a little bit more speed to his game,” said Bylsma, as per the Buffalo News.

“He’s made some great plays for us early on – power play and five-on-five for the Okposo goal – but we need to get more out of Sam, moving his feet more, playing a little bit faster, a little bit quicker and providing a little bit more offense for our team.”

The Sabres, without two key forwards in Jack Eichel and Evander Kane with long-term injuries, which would help explain the team’s early offensive issues, conclude a four-game road trip Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Sabres also called up forward Hudson Fasching and defenseman Casey Nelson from Rochester in the AHL.

P.K. Subban clearly had a blast as Titans’ 12th man

P.K. Subban
Leave a comment

When P.K. Subban shows up at your event, you expect to be entertained. And he basically always delivers.

His trend of delighting Nashville Predators fans continued on Sunday, as he made a glorious appearance as the Tennessee Titans’ “12th Man.”

If you close your eyes and picture a scene, you probably wouldn’t be that far off; it still doesn’t make this any less fantastic. (Even if the Titans eventually dropped a 34-26 loss to the Colts.)

The photo he posted on his personal Twitter account was great:

This GIF of him using a sword feels like it will get some mileage on Twitter. After totally convincing other people about your sports/political/hot-dog-being-a-sandwich opinion, and then drop the P.K. dagger:

Was the Titans jersey not lasting for long predictable or unexpected?

Opinion: this was the Titans game to attend since they fell a yard short of beating the Rams.

Don’t glare: Heritage Classic start time delayed

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 22: Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers skates during practice in preparation for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic alumni hockey game on October 22, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Oilers play the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 23, 2016. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
1 Comment

Update: Puck drop is now scheduled for 4:53 p.m. ET.


It’s not a familiar situation for the NHL, but it has happened before: a weather delay for a hockey game.

The Winnipeg Jets confirmed that the start time for their Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers has been delayed. The glare of the sun appears to be too much.

At the moment, it is not yet known how severe the delay will be. Puck drop was originally scheduled for just after 3 p.m. ET.

That’s a bummer, but at least it inspired a joke that would probably make Ilya Bryzgalov smile:

Warm-ups were moved to 4 p.m. ET. PHT will keep you posted if there are any other changes.

Great news: Jacques Demers back at home after hospital stay

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 22:   Former Montreal Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy embraces his former head coach Jacques Demers during his retirement ceremony before the game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 22, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is back at home after going to a hospital Saturday.

Demers’ Senate office would only confirm that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, was at home Sunday, but didn’t provide any details about the reason he went to the hospital.

Demers had suffered a stroke in April, but he was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

Demers led the Canadiens to their most recent Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached the Quebec Nordiques, the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues.

Demers was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but later left the Conservative caucus in December to sit as an Independent.

At the time, he said he was uncomfortable with some of the fallout from the Senate expenses scandal and didn’t like to have to vote the Conservative party line all the time.