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Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton alternate

by Sean McCullen

The San Jose Sharks named forward Joe Pavelski the ninth captain in their history Monday.

"Obviously, it's a huge honor. I'm excited to have an opportunity like this," Pavelski told the Sharks radio network. "It means a lot, but it really can't change anything about the player I am or what my game is going to be like. It's got to keep put the work in, try to get better every day, and, you know, perform. So, it's exciting."

San Jose did not have a captain last season, when it missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002-03.

Peter DeBoer, entering his first season as Sharks coach, said Pavelski, 31, stood out to him in a locker room full of veterans, including two former San Jose captains.

"There's a lot of leadership candidates here, but it's his time," DeBoer said. "He's grown into a leader on this team and, you know, a key player, and he has the respect of everybody in the room and everybody I've talked to, and I've witnessed it firsthand."

Pavelski led San Jose with 37 goals and 70 points last season after NHL career highs of 41 goals and 79 points in 2013-14. He is fourth in the NHL in goals since 2011-12 (125) and has 228 goals and 485 points in 643 NHL games, all with the Sharks, who selected him in the seventh round (No. 205) at the 2003 NHL Draft.

Centers Logan Couture and Joe Thornton will be alternate captains.

"I'm super happy for [Pavelski]," Thornton told the Sharks website. "... We all think [he's] our leader anyways, so really nothing changes, but now it's official that he's the captain. I think it's great for him and it's well-deserved."

Thornton was San Jose captain for four seasons before former coach Todd McLellan and general manager Doug Wilson stripped him of the title last August, four months after the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference First Round. Left wing Patrick Marleau, entering his 18th season with the Sharks, was captain from 2004-09 before being replaced by Rob Blake.

"Obviously, you're not doing this alone," Pavelski said. "There's a lot of guys with experience who have been in the role before; they know what to expect. It's just about our expectations and raising them again."

Pavelski said the Sharks can get back to the playoffs this season after they were 40-33-9 (89 points) last season and finished 10 points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card in the West.

"The guys in this room believe it's close, even with a year like we had last year," Pavelski said. "We believe it's close. The foundation is there and the players are here to do it, and it's about getting the job done now."

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