Why Couture, Sharks will need to lean on each other this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
When the Sharks open their 2021 training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Friday, nothing will be routine.
Just 13 days to get fully prepared, with no exhibition games -- for players with limited access to rinks and skating across the last few weeks, and a group that hasn’t competed together in 10 months.
Worse than rusty performances at first, could it also impact injures across the league?
“It’s a good question,” captain Logan Couture told NBC Sports California recently. “I think our coaches are going to have us play inter-squad games where the intensity is going to have to be high. Guys will have to finish checks, and pretend like it’s a preseason game to get ready.”
The physical aspect might also only be half the battle starting Jan. 14. At the very earliest, San Jose won’t play a “home” game until Feb. 1. However, it’s more than likely they could be forced to be an “all-road” team longer than that.
“You may look from the outside, and wonder what are these guys talking about,” Couture said. “You get to stay in nice hotels, eat nice meals ... but it’s a lot of alone time. Time away from loved ones, and families. Guys that have new babies, young kids, dogs, that’s a long time without seeing them.”
Couture, an advocate for mental health and brain trauma research, doesn’t take the reality lightly.
“We’ll have to lean on each other,” Couture said. “I’m sure the organization will have [clinical] people if we need to talk.”
NHL players on all teams have been watching how MLB, NFL, and now NBA seasons have operated "outside the bubble." It won’t make their challenges any easier, but it at least draws a foundation of how to keep a legitimate 56-game schedule on track.
“We’ve seen the games that get postponed or cancelled to a few positive tests,” Couture said. “A few guys making mistakes without wearing masks. So you have to be vigilant, have to be prepared, and have to be flexible.”