There's always smack talk in hockey. But in the most recent installment of such banter, the Sharks have chosen to take the high road.
LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty opened up about how he judges players in the Norris Trophy conversation. And he appeared to throw shade at Sharks' blueliners Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson in the process.
Doughty prefaced by saying he doesn't judge the same way fans or writers do.
"I watch the games. I watch how they play. I watch Brent Burns get beat 20 times a game," Doughty said, via The Athletic. "That's how I base it. And I like how [Calgary Flames d-man Mark Giordano] plays. I've got tons of respect for Gio. He plays the game the right way. He plays the game at both ends of the ice. He's on the power play. He blocks shots. He's a first PK guy.
"You don't see that from Burns or [Erik] Karlsson. They're not first PK guys," Doughty continued. "They're amazing as offensive guys. None of us are close to them there. We don't have the offensive upside. But they don't have even close to our defensive upside, so …
"I would want Giordano on my team before those guys."
Doughty's comments went viral when they hit Twitter earlier in the week, particularly his commentary on Burns, who won the Norris Trophy a year after Doughty did. When Burns and Sharks' head coach Peter DeBoer were asked about the comments, neither gave them too much mind.
"I think he's a great player," Burns told Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News. "Obviously [Giordano] is too. Guys can say whatever. Everybody's got their opinion, I guess.
"All these guys are guys I like to watch and learn from, so, I would watch his game and learn parts of it. I like my game, though."
DeBoer took a similar approach when asked about Doughty's comments.
"I just think guys should stick to commenting on their own games," he said. "For me, that's where everybody in this league's focus should lie."
Burns currently leads all defensemen in the NHL with 77 points. Giordano comes in second with 72 points.