Logan Couture is a good sport, but as he helped raise money for the Smashfest charitable event in Toronto last week, you could tell there's a weariness surrounding him these days when the press is around. That's because he knows there will inevitably be questions about his team's collapse against Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs, when San Jose could not close out a 3-0 series lead. The Kings would go on to win four straight, of course, and ultimately the Stanley Cup.
“You think about how much it hurts," he said. "It’s sad. The feelings aren’t gonna go away, probably ever. It’s something that sticks with you a long time. It should be motivation for our team.”
What else can be said at this point? The Sharks have been a good and often great regular season team for the past decade, but don't have a single berth in the Cup final to show for it. Tweaks have been made each summer, though GM Doug Wilson seems to have reached his wits' end at this point, referring to the squad as a "tomorrow team" earlier this summer and looking to players such as Couture, Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic as those who must lead the team. For his part, Couture is happy to take that next step in his career.
“It’s nice to hear that from your GM and other players, that they believe in you," he said. "We’re trying to move forward from what happened. I’m hopefully going to be with the Sharks for a long time so I hope to take on more of a leadership role.”
Interestingly enough, Couture poured water on one of the hotter topics in hockey today, that being advanced statistics. As a player, he doesn't get involved, he noted.
“The coaches may use it, but I’ve never discussed it with them," Couture said. "With our team we’ve got a lot of old-school guys; I don’t think they would care about it.”
Which is ironic, because Couture was actually a very good player in terms of advanced stats this past season, registering a positive Corsi rating (9.64) while finishing more shifts in the offensive zone than he began.
Looking at the moves Wilson made this summer, there must have been at least some nod to advanced stats at the managerial level, since weaker Corsi player Martin Havlat was jettisoned. Dan Boyle was also let go and while he had a positive Corsi, he was only fourth among San Jose blueliners (not counting Brent Burns, who played forward but will revert back to defense in 2014-15).
Still, even though San Jose ranked third overall in Fenwick percentage this past season, Los Angeles ranked first and that's where the Sharks once again met their Waterloo. But Couture looks at a lineup that still boasts himself, Joe Thornton and pivot/winger Joe Pavelski and sees the potential for glory.
“Centermen are tough to come by, especially in the West," he said. "You’re gonna need two, three, four good centers to win a championship. We saw L.A., we see Chicago – teams that have won lately – they’ve got great centermen. It’s the recipe for success.”
And one Couture hopes to perfect in Northern California soon.