SAN JOSE (CBS SF/AP) — The revamped San Jose Sharks open the NHL regular season Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks with a clean shaven Joe Thornton and expectations sky high for a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Those expectations were ratched up even higher during the offseason when San Jose completed a blockbuster deal for two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson.
And head coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t mincing words or dampening the fans enthusiasm.
“It’s a pressure to win,” he said hours after the September trade. “There’ s no shirking that, there’s no hiding from it,” DeBoer said. “I’m not a big believer in you don’t talk about the Stanley Cup. There’s no hiding from that. That’s what we’re here to do.”
The trade leaves the Sharks with the league’s top two scoring defensemen over the past decade in Karlsson and Brent Burns, a premier shutdown defenseman in Marc-Edouard Vlasic and a group of talented veteran forwards led by Thornton, captain Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and last season’s big addition Evander Kane.
“There’s really no excuses,” Kane said. “It’s up to us to put it all together, put it on the ice, have a good season.”
Thornton an Burns garnered plenty of attention last season with their unruly lumberjack beards. But the veteran forward is sporting a new look at the 2018-2019 season opens.
“It makes me feel real young,” Thornton said with a laugh. “We were having some fellowship over at Burnzies and my wife’s been wanting this done for a long time. The guys got on it and all of a sudden the shaver came out and there it was on the plate. So my 5-year-old wasn’t happy this morning when he woke up, he didn’t want to see dad so I got to nake it up to him somehow.”
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.