April 14, 2024
San Jose Sharks coach David Quinn on Logan Couture: “Whether he could go and whether he will go are two different things."

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture’s health is improving but any optimism that the San Jose Sharks captain will be fully healthy and ready to play in the team’s regular season opener in 10 days might be starting to fade.

Couture, out with an undisclosed lower-body injury, has not practiced so far in training camp and the team is still unsure as to when he’ll begin to skate again.

Sharks coach David Quinn said Couture was at the team’s training facility Monday “challenging himself to see if he can continue to take the next step to get on the ice.” But with training camp already at the midway point, Quinn also struck a realistic tone as to whether Couture could be fully healthy for the Oct. 12 opener against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“Whether he could go and whether he will go are two different things,” said Quinn, emphasizing that the Sharks will take a cautious approach to Couture’s return. “Every day that goes by, what we’re hearing is, ‘When he’s in, he’s in.’

“With every passing day, it becomes less likely he will be (ready for Oct. 12).”

Couture has played in the Sharks’ season-opening game for 13 straight years. The only one he’s missed since he turned professional was in his rookie season in 2009-2010 when he began the year in the AHL.

It appears the do-everything Couture will be challenged to keep that streak alive. He first must begin to skate again, then practice at full speed without any setbacks before he can rejoin the Sharks. Getting in game shape is another matter.

His potential absence would be felt. Couture, 34, was the Sharks’ second-leading scorer last season with 67 points in 82 games and through most of his 14-year NHL career, has been tasked with playing against the opposing team’s top offensive line to go with spending time on the power play and penalty kill.

The Sharks open the season with a difficult four-game homestand. After San Jose faces the defending Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights, they host the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, and Boston Bruins on the 14th, 17th and 19th, respectively.

“He’s a little bit behind the eight ball because everyone’s coming in ready to go,” Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said of Couture, his teammate for the past 14 seasons. “It’s not like he did camp, (got hurt) in the season and he’s out a couple weeks.

“He’ll be back as soon as he can. I don’t think he wants to sit out any longer than he already has. He’ll make sure he’s 100 percent because if he comes back and something else happens, he might be out for a longer period of time.”

If Couture has to start the season on injured reserve, the Sharks would ideally have Mikael Granlund take his place as the team’s second-line center. Granlund, though, is dealing with a lower-body ailment of his own and is skating with in a group with other banged-up players, including winger Kevin Labanc.

Granlund will not play in either of the Sharks’ final two preseason games this week, in Las Vegas on Tuesday or Salt Lake City on Thursday, but Quinn is anticipating that the Finnish-born forward will be available on Oct. 12.

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The Sharks are hoping to avoid the same disastrous start they had last season when they began 0-5-0 and were 3-9-3 after one month. The Sharks never approached a .500 points percentage again as they went on to finish 22-44-16, their fourth-worst record in the franchise’s 31 seasons.

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