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Sharks still see Thornton as leader despite loss of 'C'

Sunday, 09.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton opened training camp tied for 24th on the NHL's all-time assists list with 852 and ranked second among active players, trailing only Jaromir Jagr. Thornton has 1,194 career points, good for 46th all-time and second among active players, behind Jagr.

Thornton is San Jose's highest paid player, earning $6.75 million per year in his new three-year contract.

Yet, in the wake of San Jose's collapse against the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thornton was stripped of his captaincy, losing the "C" after wearing it for four seasons.

So the question when camp opened was this: How would losing the "C" affect Thornton, a player who continues adding to his possible Hall of Fame credentials and is crucial to the Sharks' hopes of rebounding after blowing a 3-0 series lead and losing the final four games against Los Angeles?

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Burns' transition, forward depth concerns for Sharks

Sunday, 09.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The San Jose Sharks have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 10 straight seasons, a streak that seems likely to continue despite a tumultuous offseason and little help through free agency or trades.

But for the Sharks to bounce back from last season's first-round collapse against the Los Angeles Kings and become a team capable of making a strong run at a Stanley Cup title, they'll need the following three things to happen.

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Fueled by painful memory, Sharks start chase anew

Sunday, 09.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The San Jose Sharks are used to bouncing back after coming up short in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they've never had to rebound from as painful or humiliating of a loss as they sustained last season in the Western Conference First Round against the Los Angeles Kings.

After winning the first three games of the series, the Sharks lost four straight to the Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Sharks had a long, painful and, at times, dysfunctional offseason as Joe Thornton was stripped of his captaincy and alternate captain Patrick Marleau had his "A" removed as well.

"I think our minds still take us back to the playoffs, and they should, although I'd like us to eventually not forget about it but move on," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "But certainly, starting camp, there's a reflection period where we start thinking about how we finished the season and how the level of play that we competed in the last four games wasn't where it needed to be, and that's still there."

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Blackhawks ready to go after playoff disappointment

Sunday, 09.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

CHICAGO -- Four months later, it remains a goal that stings the Chicago Blackhawks.

Scored by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez 5:47 into overtime of Game 7 in the 2014 Western Conference Final, it sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup and left the Blackhawks with a summer of "what ifs?" to ponder.

What if they'd protected those two-goal leads in that game? What if defenseman Nick Leddy's stick hadn't been knocked to the ice seconds before Kings forward Justin Williams retrieved the puck and sent it out to Martinez?

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Center depth, goaltending key issues for Blackhawks

Sunday, 09.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Chicago Blackhawks make no secret about their goal for this season and beyond.

They're out to add a sixth Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters at United Center, and they have a roster with enough talent to do it. After falling one goal short of playing for the Cup in back-to-back seasons, the Blackhawks are rejuvenated and ready for another season to begin.

In order to achieve their goal this season, they'll need to make sure these three things happen:

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Chicago's Versteeg healthy, ready to redeem himself

Sunday, 09.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

If anyone on the Chicago Blackhawks needed the offseason, it was right wing Kris Versteeg.

The 2013-14 season wasn't one he'd like to remember too much, except for the fact he returned from major knee surgery. Otherwise, the versatile 28-year old had a season that could best be described as turbulent.

"Time off physically and mentally always helps," Versteeg said shortly after the Blackhawks opened training camp. "I wasn't good last year and you always try to bounce back from years like that and come back better, so it was nice to have time off."

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Schwartz signs two-year contract with Blues

Saturday, 09.27.2014 / 6:57 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Restricted free agent Jaden Schwartz has signed a two-year contract with the St. Louis Blues, the team announced Saturday.

No terms of the agreement were disclosed, but TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the contract will pay Schwartz $2 million this season and $2.7 million in 2015-16, for an average annual value of $2.35 million.

"We are excited to have Jaden in the fold for the next two seasons," general manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement. "He is an exciting young talent that will play a key role in the success of our club in the near future."

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Islanders enjoy taste of Brooklyn, focus on present

Saturday, 09.27.2014 / 11:54 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- As the team bus rolled out of the Nassau Coliseum parking lot and headed west on the Long Island Expressway toward Brooklyn, New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic stared out the window and thought about the changes coming.

"Getting here, you're trying to figure out the plan of how you're going to fight the traffic to get in," Hamonic said. "Probably the train is one of the best options. I'm sure with more time it's going to feel at home."

Barclays Center started to feel a little more like home to the Islanders on Friday than it did a year ago. It was their second preseason game in as many Septembers in their future home, but this one felt different.

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Quote of the Day

It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.

— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday
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