SAN JOSE – San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will likely miss his third straight game Saturday night against St. Louis because of a concussion, but he said he’s “feeling better every day” and expects to be back behind the bench “very soon.”
The Sharks, though, should have leading goal scorer Logan Couture back in the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. And there’s a chance top-six defenseman Douglas Murray will return. He has missed eight games since being hit in the Adam’s apple with a puck against Tampa Bay.
“I still have some moments that aren’t real good,” McLellan said after the Sharks morning skate at HP Pavilion, talking to reporters for the first time since being hit in the head by a stick during Sunday’s game at Minnesota.
“I can tell you I have a much better appreciation for head injuries,” McLellan said. “I was one of those guys that stated that we probably all played with them, we’ve all had them in the past. But until you really get cracked and feel the way I’ve felt over the last five or six days -- you tend to lose that opinion quickly and maybe appreciate a little bit more what a lot of these players have gone through.”
McLellan said he is still suffering “typical concussion symptoms.”
“There’s times where I feel really good, and then a lot of the motion and movement makes it hard for one to focus a little bit,” he explained. “But I am getting better every day.”
McLellan was on the ice Friday and conducted San Jose’s practice.
“I felt really good in the morning and didn’t feel that good after practice,” McLellan said.
McLellan said he doesn’t remember getting hit by the stick of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella, but remembers everything before and soon after that incident.
“A coach takes that risk a lot, trainers do,” McLellan said. “Your focus often isn’t on the puck, it’s on people around you and what’s happening. Trainers are getting skates and gloves, and you’re not always paying attention. For the most part you usually can get your hands up and protect yourself. That was a situation where I couldn’t.”
After taking practice off on Friday, Couture took part in the entire optional skate Saturday morning.
“I think I’m in,” Courture said. “We’ll see when I get to the rink, but felt good in morning skate. Obviously we didn’t do any line rushes or anything like that, but felt pretty good. So we’ll see what happens when I come to the rink. Hopefully I’m ready to play. … I felt pretty good out on the ice. Another day’s rest definitely helped.”
Murray was one of the first defensemen off the ice Saturday morning, a sign that he’ll likely be in the lineup, although he said he was waiting to hear if he has been “officially” cleared by team doctors to play.
“I guess that I’ll be playing pretty soon,” Murray said.
When he returns, Murray will have added protection in the front of his shoulder pads to help shield his throat. The concern has been that if he gets hit in the same area again it will cause dangerous swelling that could affect his breathing.