This is the first time he has started a season with Sharks Don Doug Wilson, Sr., as its general manager. This will be the first time he plays without Brent Burns More than a decade ago, though, saying goodbye to old teammates and franchise icons is something Couture has accumulated a lot of experience with over the past few years.
He will be captain of the NHL team in Europe, which will include his first trip to Berlin and a welcome return to Prague. He will also be a captain at a club trying to get back into the post-season after losing three consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. There have been a lot of changes in the organization, with a new General Manager (Mike Greer), a new coach (David Quinn), a lot of new faces working for both and many additions to the roster. It has been a lot on Kotor, who had his best season (23 goals, 56 points in 77 games) since he was named captain after that. Joe Pavlesky signed with Dallas More than three years ago.
He, like Burns and the other veteran members of the roster, was also given the opportunity by Grier to seek a different position, perhaps akin to competing for the Stanley Cup. Couture refused, and would begin his fourth season as captain in two weeks. Couture spoke with the athlete About all of San Jose’s big moves, franchise status, gameplay and more.
The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
The past few months have been wild on every level for the franchise. What do you think of all that happened?
Well, the first thought is excitement. When you’ve been somewhere for a long time, maybe a change is needed if you start to struggle like the last few years. I think Mike (Gerer) has brought a different way of looking at things and that brings excitement. You always want to make a good first impression.
Giant shark mailbag, part 1:
What is Mike Greer’s plan?
– From GM Jim Nill stars in the new SJ AGM Tom Holy
Is this year a year of rebuilding?
– What about all those guards?
Who will be the best quote in the team now
– more https://t.co/7jhzywPRfA
– Cory Macasisak (@cmasisak22) August 1, 2022
The coaching staff is completely new, too. I sat down and had lunch with David (Queen) in London. He had already made the trip to see me a few weeks ago, so I sat down with him and had a great, wonderful face-to-face meeting. So I’m excited about the year. The staff is enthusiastic. The management is enthusiastic. So I look forward to moving forward.
What was your initial reaction to the Sharks appointing Mike Greer as General Manager?
I missed him (as a teammate). He was here the year before I got here, but I’ve only heard great things about him from other players. I knew he had a close relationship with some of the guys with whom I have close relationships. So only positive things. I knew Tom Holy was close to him and I still keep in touch with him often. Then it happened, Tom was hired. So I only heard very good things about him. My dealings with him so far, although it was very brief, he was very honest, very frank with me. That’s really all you can ask for with a general manager.
Greer was very open about the idea that he would talk to all the veterans and say, “Do you want to be here?” How was that conversation for you?
He called me and basically asked me about my condition and said, “I know they’ve been two tough years for you.” He said, “That’s what I imagine here. What are your feelings?” And I told him I love being a shark and I want to be, you know, so I signed a contract here to play for this organization. I will try to do everything I can to get this team back to where it needs to be and heading in the right direction.
What’s your reaction to having a different answer to Brent Burns than Grier and he’s no longer here?
Well, he’s older. I’ve talked to Burnzie a lot during the process. We both took a break after the season in this area and are working together. It was very transparent. Obviously he only has a few years left and he wants to win. You have gone to a very good place. It was a place he had to agree to, because I don’t think they were one of the teams on his roster. I’m just happy for him because he’s so excited. He said he will miss this place obviously misses all his friends here. But as a teammate, he has been very transparent and open and we all want the best for him. He is a great man. I’m glad he’s happy.
When Jarir called you, did you think about the alternative at all? Like, maybe it’s worth looking at other situations?
No, not at this point in my life and where I’m outside of hockey. I love this area. I’m getting married in this area next summer. I love being a shark. So I didn’t think about it twice. This is just my personal preference. I would love to be here.
What was your reaction when the Sharks appointed David Quinn as their new head coach?
I’ve only heard good things from Nick Bonino. Praise Quinn. I think he trained Bonino at BU. I knew some players who had played with him in the World Championships and had contact with players who had played with him in New York. They said he’s honest, he’s fair, he’s demanding and you’ll work. These are the things you really want in a coach. You want to get better and you want a loyal man who is very excited to be here. I mean, when you meet him, the excitement you might feel right away when you sit down with him. So I look forward to working with him. We haven’t bypassed regulations or anything like that yet. I look forward to it.
In general, a lot of things happened during the summer off the ice, on the ice. Where do you think things stand for the sharks now compared to what they were four or six months ago?
hard to say. I just go back to the building. It’s a different feeling. There is no dancing about that. I mean, Doug is no longer here. There are changes on the other side of things, like strength coach, doctors (crew), equipment (crew) and all that. The support team is different, but that’s how this business works. I’ve been fortunate here for a long time to keep things the same or the same, and sometimes a change is needed when things don’t go well. So it will take a while to get used to, but I’m sure it will be fine.
Grier’s plan didn’t seem to include making any creepy moves, but he did add several capable veteran NHL players. Do you know any of the new players, and what do you think of the new-look roster?
Just from playing against them – I didn’t know any of them personally. I’ve heard good things about all of them. Martin Jones He told me Oscar (Lindblum) was great. (Alex Stalock) tell me about Luke Konin, because I think they played together in Minnesota. So different men reached out and said, “You’re going to love these guys. They’re great.” The first thing I noticed – I haven’t talked to (management) about it but once you see these signings they are all very hard working players and they are all playing the game the right way. That’s what wins hockey games. You play the game the right way, you work hard and you sacrifice. All these guys are doing it. So I’m really excited to get them all in.
How do you feel about the direction of the organization in general? This seems to have been an ongoing discussion point about sharks from the outside for months…
I haven’t talked to (Garer) about it, but I’m sure (management) has a plan. It’s very hard, with contracts and all that, to know exactly what’s going to happen. What I was told is that we want to win hockey games and we do everything we can to win hockey games and see where the chips fall. That’s all I can think about is getting myself and the team ready for training camp, and having a good camp. It’s a tough start to the season, and then we’ll go from there.
It sounds like you were very close to former coach Bob Bogner…what is your reaction to how this happened in the off season?
yes. First of all, I’m glad he got another job (in Detroit). I think there was frustration, probably on both sides with him and the management. I don’t know exactly what happened towards the end of the season. I held my meetings and walked out of them. I can’t say exactly what happened there. But I think he’s definitely happy because he’s still working in the NHL.
What do you think of the start of the season in Europe?
It will be fun. It’s tough or rough it’s a lot, but I did it in 2010. We started in Mannheim with a pre-season game and then played in Stockholm for two games. I had a blast. It’s something I will never forget. For guys to be able to experience this, I’m sure it will be something they will never forget. For the Czech players on the team, I’m sure this is a big deal for them. So it’s a lot of fun. You can see another culture. We’re going to spend some time in Germany, and that would be sinister. I’ve never been to Berlin so that would be cool. Prague is a beautiful city. I went to (Thomas) Hurtl’s wedding, and had one of the best times I’ve ever had there. I’m very much looking forward to it. However, we need to get off to a good start.
I think some of the big topics from this bootcamp will be players trying to get used to Quinn and vice versa, and a lot of battles over spots with a relatively unstable roster. What do you think this camp will be?
It’s a lot. Maybe we have to learn new systems. The special teams may change, I’m not sure. It’s going to take time, but it should be fast because I think we only have three days of camp before our first exhibition game against LA, and shortly after that we head to Europe. I’m sure they’ll stack up a lot in those few days. Guys will have to be in good contact. But I think speaking to some of the guys, everyone is excited and looking forward to it. We had a good camp last year and got off to a good start. And I think we want to do that again.
One of the general themes when people talk about your season from last year, was the constant turmoil and the lack of two consistent people to play with. Have you thought a lot about it this season?
I honestly didn’t think of that. Mario (Ferraro) is staying at the guest house now. He and I were sitting in my backyard last night, and he was talking about it and it was the first time it came to our mind. There are a lot of guys out there, and I’m sure you play with everyone all year long. This is how the league works. The streaks are usually loose, except maybe five or six in this league. So you have to learn to play with new guys and see who I have chemistry with right away.
What do you think of your season in general last year and where are you going?
I think overall, it was a good start. I think it was fine for a large and medium stretch for some parts of it. So I’m looking forward to a good start, like the team, and moving forward from there.
What should be different this year, if the team is to stay in the playoffs game longer in the season?
I think we were only four points close to the deadline or so. We were close, and at that point, we were probably sitting around waiting to tell from the organization which direction they were going and we missed some games we shouldn’t be doing. I think when you are in this position, you have to impose a hand on management. You have to win matches and then make them move to improve the team.
So for us this year, I think the most important thing is to find more goals. We were bottom fifth or third in the league last year in scoring. We have to find more insult. This should come from what we have in the squad. We have to find a way to score, be it systematically or individually. We have to find more goals.
(Logan Couture top photo: Lucas Peltier / USA Today)