Tomas Hertl

Hertl motivated to return Sharks to playoffs after rebuild

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Tomáš Hertl has spent his entire NHL career with the Sharks, making the Stanley Cup playoffs five times with San Jose.

Since being selected No. 17 by the Sharks in the 2012 NHL Draft, Hertl has posted 207 goals, 259 assists and 466 points, becoming a fan-favorite and leader in Silicon Valley year after year.

During current lowly times for the NHL-worst Sharks, Hertl must guide the club toward the hopeful light at the end of the tunnel, which the 11-year center detailed with The Athletic’s Eric Stephens.

“A lot of pieces have changed,” Hertl said to Stephens. “But this is like my home. My family is from here now, with my wife. Everything started here. Even in these tough times here, I’m still coming into (this dressing room). Even after this tough start, I still have a feeling that things will turn around. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year. But it changes quick. You get a couple players. Guys settle in and things can change really fast in the league.”

Hertl emphasized wanting to return the Sharks to glory, as San Jose hasn’t made a postseason appearance since the 2018-2019 NHL season.

After the Sharks traded away star Erik Karlsson over the summer, Hertl, along with veterans Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Logan Couture, became the few Sharks remaining with playoff experience.

Hertl, who signed an eight-year, $65.1 million extension last March, wants to get San Jose on the right track again. He doesn’t need any more motivation and knows what it takes to get the Sharks to the playoffs and even the Stanley Cup Finals, which San Jose reached in 2016.

“First couple of years, you get here (and) you’re winning in the regular season,” Hertl told Stephens. “And it seems like it’s not that hard to get in the playoffs.

“Now when you’re going through this tough time where it’s kind of a rebuild, you appreciate it (more) and you know how hard it is to get there. You want to work even harder now because you want to get the team back…fighting for the playoff runs because (there’s) nothing more fun (than) to be in the playoffs.”

Hertl has been through a lot with the Sharks but has reached new lows with San Jose as the team is 4-15-2, totaling 10 points, entering Monday's game against the Washington Capitals. 

However, the Czech Republic native is optimistic about the Sharks’ future and relishes his family’s foundation in the South Bay.

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