Sharks News & Rumors: Thornton, Kane, Grier & More

In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, a Joe Thornton return for the 2022-23 season has not been ruled out just yet. Meanwhile, former Shark Evander Kane has settled his grievance with the organization. In other news, general manager Mike Grier let it be known his team would not be headed to play in Czechia for the start of the 2022-23 season if Russian players aren’t able to enter the country. Last but not least, after trade speculation throughout the summer, defenseman Radim Simek appears committed to remaining in San Jose.

Thornton Hasn’t Made Decision on Playing Future

After it was made clear in August that Thornton would not be returning to the Florida Panthers, most assumed that his playing career was coming to a close. At 43 years old, he doesn’t have much left in the tank, proven by his 2021-22 output of five goals and 10 points in 34 games. That said, his veteran leadership may prove useful on what is a rebuilding Sharks roster. That leadership is likely why Grier hasn’t closed the door on the future Hall-of-Famer rejoining the team for the 2022-23 campaign.

San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton
San Jose Sharks’ Joe Thornton (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

“Things are kind of up to him. I don’t know if he wants to play or not,” Grier said. “When he figures that out, and his family figures that out, then I’m sure I’ll have a conversation with him at some point.”

By all accounts, Thornton loves being at the rink and around his teammates. That is pretty obvious, given how long he has played the game. That said, he has had to spend plenty of time away from his family as a result of his career, which may very well be what is holding up his decision. We should have a better idea of what way he is leaning the further we get into training camp.

Kane & Sharks Come to Settlement

It took plenty of time, but the grievance between Kane and the Sharks has finally been settled. This situation had been ongoing since the 31-year-old had his contract terminated by the team back in January for what they deemed was a violation of COVID-19 protocols. The NHLPA immediately filed a grievance on behalf of Kane, who at the time had three more seasons remaining on his contract.

Related: Sharks’ Prospect Tournament Provides Insight into a Great Future

While it is being coined a settlement, it seems as though Kane was the winner of this ordeal. After being forced to sign a lesser deal with the Edmonton Oilers, the Sharks will make up the difference in salary, which comes out to slightly less than $3 million. The good news is that this matter is no longer an issue, and the organization can finally move on from a player who reportedly caused plenty of friction in the dressing room.

Grier Not Afraid to Back Out of Czechia Games

When it was announced that the Sharks would begin their 2022-23 season playing the Nashville Predators twice in Prague, no one was happier than forward Tomas Hertl. After all, the Czechia native hasn’t had the opportunity to play in front of his country in years. Whether he is able to in less than a month’s time, however, remains to be seen.

With what has transpired as of late between Russia and Ukraine, it has been reported that Czechia will not be allowing Russian NHL players into the country. Whether this is something they will consider going back on remains to be seen, but if not, Grier made it clear that his team – who has a Russian player in Alexander Barabanov – will not be going.

“I’m a pretty firm believer [that] we’re a team here,” Grier said. “We’re a group. It’s not the players’ fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. So I don’t think they should be punished for it.

“We stand with them and we’re all together as one in here.”

This would be an extremely unfortunate situation given the excitement that all Sharks players, Hertl in particular, must have been feeling. That said, it is clear that Grier is doing everything in his power to instill a team-first mentality within this group. One can’t blame him for making this decision if it does indeed come down to it.

Simek Ready for Fresh Start

After a promising second season in the NHL back in 2019-20, Simek has seen his role with the Sharks decrease in each of the past two seasons. In 2021-22, he averaged only 13:17 in ice time throughout the 36 games he was inserted into the lineup, while also recording just two points. After voicing his frustration at season’s end, it felt like a trade was inevitable. However, a deal never came to fruition, and with a new management and coaching staff now in charge, the 30-year-old feels revitalized.

Radim Simek San Jose Sharks
Radim Simek, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“It’s past for me already,” Simek told San Jose Hockey Now. “It’s new management here. New coaching staff. I’m looking forward.

“Of course, I was a little angry after last season because from February, I played just a couple games. And I played a game at forward, you know? Of course, I was unhappy.”

Thankfully for Simek, a new coaching staff means he will have a clean slate. While things can change, he is currently being slotted in on the left side of the Sharks’ third pairing alongside Matt Benning. If he can get back to the level he was playing at just a few seasons ago, head coach David Quinn should have no issue having him in the lineup on a nightly basis.

Looking Ahead for the Sharks

With training camp underway, there are plenty of things for Sharks fans to tune into when it comes to their team. Certain prospects will be worth monitoring, none more so than William Eklund who is ready to prove he has what it takes to stick with the big club. As well, the status surrounding Thornton and his playing future is worth keeping an eye on over the next few days and weeks.

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