In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, Erik Karlsson is expected to miss roughly 10-12 weeks after surgery to repair a small muscle tear in his forearm. Meanwhile, Logan Couture recently discussed why it is important for this Sharks roster to ensure they don’t fall into any deep losing streaks for the remainder of the season. In other news, San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik was given a 30-game suspension by the American Hockey League (AHL) after a racial gesture made towards Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners. Last but not least, head coach Bob Boughner spoke about what Lane Pederson needs to do to become a regular in the lineup.
Karlsson Out Long-Term
The Sharks received some devastating news recently, as Karlsson isn’t expected to be back until mid-March at the earliest after having surgery to repair a muscle in his left forearm on Monday. It is the latest blow to the 31-year-old, who has had trouble staying healthy over the years, something which Boughner said has him quite frustrated.
“It was a type of thing where, do we sit here and try to have him as a day-to-day guy, which can’t really practice and he can only play and even when he’s playing he’s only playing at 60-70 percent? Or do you get it fixed and get it right and get him back healthy?” Boughner said. “So it was a big decision. Erik wanted to be there for the team, but at the end of the day, it was a tough decision for him. So I think he’s down a little bit.”
After two straight down seasons by his standards, Karlsson was having a solid 2021-22 campaign with 26 points in 33 games. While his days of being the league’s best defenceman are in the past, he is still a very important piece to this Sharks roster, and they will miss him a ton when he is sidelined.
Couture Explains Why Sharks Can’t Afford to Go on Losing Streak
In the NHL, it is very easy to fall quickly in the standings. A good example is the Edmonton Oilers, who were the league’s best team in terms of points percentage on Dec. 1, but now find themselves outside of a playoff spot due to a recent seven-game losing streak. With the Sharks sitting just two points shy of third place in the Pacific Division, Couture explained why every win is extremely important for them moving forward.
“Stay positive – that’s all you can do,” Couture said when asked what his team needed to do after a recent loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. “We’ve had some tough losses this year and games where we didn’t play well and stretches where we haven’t played well, and we seem to have bounced back, whether it’s the next game or the game after. That’s the reason why we are where we are in the standings, and we’re slightly over .500, I believe. In this league, you can’t lose too many in a row. You have to put an end to losing streaks, and that’s our goal.”
Though the Sharks do sit on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture right now, they are having a much better season than most expected in 2021-22. Couture has been a big part of that, as he has registered 13 goals and 32 points in 39 games.
Hrabik Suspended for Racial Gesture
A very unfortunate and inexcusable moment took place in an AHL game recently, as Hrabik is reported to have imitated the movements of a monkey to Imama, who is black. Several of Imama’s teammates noticed this and confronted Hrabik instantly as Imama was held back by an official. In response to this crude gesture, the AHL suspended Hrabik for 30 games. Afterward, he apologized in a statement but denied that his gesture was meant to be racist.
“I am ashamed of today’s events and embarrassed by the actions that led to my suspension. I want everyone to know that I’m very sorry for what has occurred, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Hrabik said.
“People should know that I had absolutely no inappropriate intent. The gesture was made in the heat of battle, and while I didn’t mean anything racist by what I did, I realize now through my own ignorance how my gesture could be interpreted. I alone am responsible for that, it was terrible, and I make no excuses. When I heard about Boko’s reaction to the gesture, I was horrified by what I had done.
“Boko is a player I respect, and I am so sorry for putting him through this situation. I sent a personal apology to Boko and sincerely hope that he will forgive me. I also want to apologize to the American Hockey League, the San Jose Barracuda, the Tucson Roadrunners, and to my teammates for my unacceptable actions.”
These actions will likely cost Hrabik his career as a professional hockey player in North America. There is zero room in the game for something like this, and though mistakes happen, ones like this are entirely inexcusable.
Up Next for the Sharks
The Sharks responded to their loss to the Lightning on Saturday, defeating a recently struggling Washington Capitals team 4-1 on Wednesday. They are now off until the weekend, where they have a very difficult back-to-back set against two of the best teams in the league in the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.