Sharks Leaving Europe in Preparation for End of NHL Lockout?

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIDecember 6, 2012

April 16, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Martin Havlat (9), left wing Ryane Clowe (29), defenseman Douglas Murray (3), center Logan Couture (39) and defenseman Brent Burns (88) during the national anthem betore game three of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion.  Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Three San Jose Sharks players left their teams in Europe this past week to head home, presumably in anticipation of the end of the NHL lockout.

The lockout at least appears to be headed in a better direction than in recent weeks, but the latest news out of the meetings has been less than optimistic.

According to, talks between the NHL and NHLPA have broken down, with commissioner Gary Bettman saying he is, "disappointed beyond belief where we are."

The Sharks players, however, appear ready to get the season started. Logan Couture, who returned back to North America this week, is in full game shape after tallying 23 points in 22 games for the Geneva-Servette team in Switzerland.

CSN Bay Area's Brodie Brazil is reporting that Couture, who has left Switzerland, has no desire to play anywhere else but the NHL in the near future.

It was something that I looked at doing for a couple weeks. My main goal was to come over to Switzerland and get in shape for the NHL season, and be ready when it starts.  At this point where I’m at right now, I think I’m ready if the season were to start in the next couple weeks. I’m in game shape, played 20 plus games and got my timing down and everything. I think I looked at it as a risk-and-reward type thing, where if I continue to play over here and something bad did happen, I would regret it.

Reading between the lines, Couture decided to play in Switzerland just long enough to get his game in shape and ready for the NHL season, and when the NHL lockout looked close to ending, he made the jump back to the states.

Couture was not the only Shark to leave his team in Europe, though. Both Douglas Murray and Martin Havlat are reportedly back in North America, after spending some time in Sweden and the Czech Republic. Havlat never signed with a team, but Murray played for Djurgardens where he tallied three points and 32 penalty minutes in 14 games.

Both Havlat and Murray can probably share Couture's sentiment that it is more of a risk-reward issue at this point.  

Continuing to play for their teams in Europe would only put them at a risk for injury and unable to be ready to play at the start of the NHL season, assuming there will be an end to the lengthy NHL lockout.

Havlat, however, has not seen competition in some time, which is all the more reason for him to get back to San Jose and get into game shape, just like the rest of his team that has chosen to indulge in post-lockout game preparation.  It would appear that Murray and Couture are season-ready, as are a few other Sharks players that have spent time overseas during the NHL lockout.

The Sharks have themselves in a pretty good position if the NHL lockout ends sometime in the near future. Their best players have been in full competition in Europe since the lockout occurred and all is set for the team to not miss a beat if and when the two sides of the lockout decide to come to an agreement.

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