Erik Karlsson

Ex-Shark Karlsson offers encouraging message about San Jose's future

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Saturday night marks the first time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson will play against the Sharks at SAP Center in San Jose since being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins over the summer.

After Pittsburgh's Friday practice in San Jose, Karlsson shared an optimistic message about the future of the Sharks despite the team being in the midst of one of the worst starts in NHL history (0-9-1).

"It's an unfortunate part of the business," Karlsson told reporters. "And the cycle, I think, where the team and the organization is at right now, if you look throughout the span since they joined the league, I would say that it's been a successful one. As of right now maybe not in the most fun cycle, but I think the people that came in and the people that are trying to shape this into what it ultimately is going to be for a long time again is good people. And they have good intentions and a purposeful plan. So, like I said last year, unfortunately for me, [the] clock is ticking a little bit faster than I would have liked."

The star defensemen also pointed to the Colorado Avalanche's successful rebuild as a beacon of hope for a Sharks team that is farther away from being competitive than they've been in decades.

"So I think you just have to stay in it," Karlsson shared. "When you see examples, when you look at Colorado six [or] seven years ago, where they were, there's no one that thought they'd be as dominant as they were the last couple years and looking like they will be for the foreseeable future. I'm sure if you asked the guys there, you're going to get a lot of the same answers you'd get from the guys here right now, just got to hang in there sometimes unfortunately."

The Avalanche finished with the fewest wins in the league during the 2016-17 NHL season before rebounding into a model of consistency over the last six campaigns that have seen the franchise win a Stanley Cup while not having a losing record over that span.

San Jose is winless through their first 10 games of the 2023-24 NHL season, the second-longest losing streak to begin a season in league history.

If the Sharks were to lose to the Penguins on Saturday night, they would tie the NHL record set by the 1943-44 New York Rangers with 11 consecutive losses to begin a season.

The offensive prowess of a player like Karlsson has been sorely missed this season, with San Jose registering just 10 goals this season while scoring more than one goal just once in those 10 games.

While the present remains shrouded in misery, Karlsson's emphasis on the bigger picture could provide a silver lining for a team and fanbase desperate for something to believe in.

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