He is the highest paid player on the team, and one of the most well-paid players in the NHL So there are naturally high expectations as a byproduct of that. The change in this upcoming campaign, his fifth in San Jose, is that he may not have been a more important component of the team’s success before this one.
When Carlson played well during the first part of last season, the Sharks remained on the fringes of the playoff chase. Now the other Norris Cup defender on his resume is gone, and Carlson is clearly the number one man in the depth chart.
The Sharks have a new General Manager, a new coaching staff, and a revised roster. There appears to be, on paper, more depth up front and on target. Defense weapon is a different story, with Brent Burns off to Carolina And the Nikolai Knigov For a long time with an injury to the Achilles tendon.
Two-time Norris winner Carlson kicked off the fourth season of an eight-year contract. Like the other veterans on the list, his new boss gave him the opportunity to look up a new home address if he wanted.
Carlson spoke to the athlete On his thoughts on all the changes, his conversations with new General Manager Mike Greer and coach David Quinn and the direction of the franchise. And we talked about his health, which is sure to be a popular topic, given that he’s missed more than 25 games in three of his four seasons with the Sharks.
San Jose qualified among the top four in defense for next season. But half of them died (or were injured). What now?
The second part of “The Case of the Sharks” focuses on the Defense Corps, which has a lot of questions to answer.
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– Cory Macasisak (@cmasisak22) August 15, 2022
The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
So much has happened with the organization this season… What is your general reaction to all the changes?
I mean, I think it was too late, probably. It’s just the way things go. They’ve had the same things here for a long time and they’ve done a good job at it, but that has obviously not been the case lately. So I kind of thought when one domino fell that the rest would follow. And that’s kind of where we’re at right now.
What is your reaction to the Sharks appointing Mike Greer as their general manager?
I don’t know. I played against him a bit and heard good things about him. I think, obviously, this is his first time in the position he now holds. I think the only thing I can really say so far is that he came with his goal and did the things he wanted to do, which is fine. He seems to have a motive and a direction he wants to go. That’s all positive. So just hope it all works out for and for everyone.
It was a big deal when Greer told the media he’d be talking to the veterans about his plan and asking if they wanted to be a part of it moving forward. How was your conversation with him about this?
It was very fast. He was hired quite late in the process, and a lot of things in the league were already getting started. He came in having to deal with a lot of things, so we didn’t have a lot of discussions early on because he needed to do a lot of other things first. I’m sure we’ll sit down now as we get closer to training camp when I’m here in person and talk a little bit more intensely about what he’s thinking and his ambitions for this organization going forward. But the initial conversations have been good, and I’m excited to see a few different things here and move this ship forward and in a slightly different direction.
What are your thoughts when Brent Burns was traded?
It’s unfortunate, but at the same time, I think it’s one of those bittersweet things. I’m happy for him because he got the chance to go to a good team and he’s still a really good player. Hope it works out for him in Carolina. At the same time, it’s sad to see someone you’ve been close to for so long and can’t find a way to get them to work here with a more sustainable future. It’s sad and at the same time, you’re happy for him because he got a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
You said you didn’t talk to Jarir much – is it fair to say you didn’t tell him you wanted to go somewhere else?
No, I stuck here a long time ago. It didn’t work out the way we wanted it early on. There are a lot of things that probably played into it. I won’t go into details about that. But I’m excited for the future here now. I hope we can move in the direction of being successful again. Is this going to be this year? I mean, who knows? But I think something good could come out of here.
What do you know about David Quinn?
Not much either. Was there in New York for a few years. I knew some of the guys on the team when he was there. I have spoken to some of them. But I don’t really want to know much either. I heard he’s a great guy. I have met him. He is a friendly person and seems to have good ideas and a clear vision of how he thinks things need to change and what needs to be done to achieve success not only in the short period, but in the long one as well. So, I’m excited about it. We haven’t really worked together yet, so it’s hard to say how things are going to work out but at first, I like the direction they want to go and the ideas they have about what needs to be done to be successful. And as I said, not only for a short period of time, but to maintain it.
No, not really. Maybe if you were a younger player, it might be a little different. I have played for many different coaches. I’m kind of what I am at this point. I have to get back into this mode and try to make everything work for everyone else. I think this applies to a lot of men here. We kind of got stuck in the mud a bit, and it would be nice to see if we can get something here and get everyone on the same page to play a sustainable game where we have a chance to make the playoffs.
How much have you thought about the past year, the ups and downs and how things have gone for you?
Unfortunately, you go through it and after a while, you just look back and wish you had done something different or changed a few things, whatever they were. It is what it is and there is nothing you can do about it now. I felt good last year. I feel better this year. I hope I can build on that. I don’t like to dwell too much on the past, whether things went well or not. I like to move forward. That’s kind of the approach I’m taking this year as well. I’m excited to start over. It’s been a long summer.
You will obviously be getting a lot of questions about your health in the coming weeks. You said you’re feeling better…Is there anything you could point to as a topic of injury issues in the past few years, or was it something random here, a luck thing there some kind of situation?
Yes, it is difficult to say. I think the injuries I’ve had since I got here… Maybe some of them could have been prevented a little bit and some were like things happen. I broke my thumb when I blocked a bullet. I mean, what are you going to do? This is part of the game. I’ve had some wear and tear where, if we’re in a different situation where you can spend time and maybe take care of him a little differently, it probably doesn’t get to the point where you have to have surgery. It’s all circumstantial. I guess now I should probably be a little more careful about when things happen, even if it means wasting a little time here and there so I don’t miss a lot of time at the end of the year. We hope to be in a position to do this.
I think overall, I’ve been fairly lucky to have been able to play everything I have. I spoiled some summers, but other than that, I feel healthy. I feel good. My body can do all the things I need to do, at the speed I want. And then you just have to hope that you pick things up at the right time, and that you don’t have to play through things to get to the point of being unbearable.
I don’t know if approach is the right word, but are you approaching this season differently because Burns is gone and you are no longer and he’s at the top of the defense corps?
I’ve gone through some changes over the course of my career where things like this happen. So I guess it wouldn’t really be something new to me. I mean, it would be new, but it wouldn’t be an unfamiliar situation. I think for some of the guys who’ve been here longer, they didn’t really see that this might be a little different. I think we’re all excited about what’s going to happen because we don’t really know what this is. Which, in this kind of business, isn’t always a bad thing, to have a little bit of an unknown spin around where you’re going and do your best to see where you end up at the end of the day?
What do you think of what the menu looks like now, after all the changes Jarir and his staff made over the summer?
If you look at the past few years, we’ve had trouble filling the line-up with top players. I think we have a lot of really good players. But it was difficult for some young people who had to take part in a game they weren’t familiar with or had the experience to do. I think (Gerer) has brought that stability with players who have been in the league for a while but may also not have reached the potential that they can. Hopefully with the dynamic we have, we bring that out and everyone will have more stability throughout the squad as the players don’t feel like they have to do more than they are asked or really can. If everyone does what they are good at, we can compliment each other in a good way. I think this will help us a lot, especially in the long run
I know the obvious thing is to score more goals, but what are some of the areas that you think this team could improve on next season?
I think what they have done so well for so long here is that they have been sustainable. They didn’t feel like they needed to win every game starting with the first game. You’ll go through some spells where you don’t win as much, but then have stretches where you win a lot of games. I think having that kind of sustainability all year round, not being in every game with the feeling that it has to be won in October would be a good thing. It’s a long year, and you get tired very quickly. You can wait there, but by the trade deadline, you might not have anything left for the last 25 or so games. And if you really succeed at it, then you should try to play the best hockey game in April.
I hope the approach is a little different than it was before, where whether we win or lose, if we play the way we think we ultimately need to win games, we’ll get there. Obviously, the more the better. But just to have a plan for what we feel we have to do to be a successful team for 82 games and then into the playoffs. I hope with the guys brought in, it will be a little easier to manage the year as a whole rather than live week to week.
(Top photo by Eric Carlson: Mark J. Rebelas/USA Today)