The Sharks had already put together a pretty good core group of players that were going to be around for a few years. Now they are assured that their captain will be part of that group.
When Joe Thornton signed a three-year, $21 million contract extension last week, he became the fifth Sharks player signed through the 2013-14 season. Thornton joins Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Joe Pavleski and Dan Boyle.
"I think this is a teammate-to-teammate choice that they all want to be here," general manager Doug Wilson said. "I think we've got a great four-year window here."
Thornton, who was named captain prior to the start of the season, could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer and he probably could have gotten a larger contract by going out into the open market. However, Thornton not only assured himself of remaining in San Jose but gave the Sharks enough room under the salary cap to add some players later in the season for a potential playoff run.
"With the salary-cap structure, back in the old days you could have gotten $12 million," Thornton said. "But nowadays you have to think of the team and what's best for the team. The Sharks and myself made a deal that's best for the team."
Horcoff Changing Culture In Edmonton
When the Oilers named Shawn Horcoff as their captain prior to the season he knew what his priority was. He felt he had to change the culture of a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since losing to the Hurricanes in the 2005-06 Stanley Cup Finals."I made it abundantly clear that we want to have an open locker room," Horcoff said. "I want everyone to be vocal. We want young guys to speak up. If any of the young guys have something to say, say it. If you're not comfortable and it's not an enjoyable place to come, it's not going to work."
Horcoff also brought back the dressing room ping-pong table, which was an Oilers tradition dating back to their championship days. There is also a sense of energy and fun in the room that had been missing in recent seasons.
"It's just so much different," defenseman Ladislav Smid said. "It's just a new atmosphere. Young guys, new faces, new energy. It's just really fun right now. You should be excited to come to the rink, this is basically your second home."
The Oilers have an extremely young team. They are hoping a family-like atmosphere will help them through what figure to be some tough times.
"We're going to face a lot of adversity this year," Sam Gagner said. "We know that. It's how we handle it and how we push through it together. If we're willing to work ourselves out of it in a positive way, it's going to turn out for the best."
The Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Rivalry
The Flyers and Penguins, Atlantic Division and Pennsylvania rivals, face each other four more times in the regular season. Those four matchups should be interesting as a series long rooted in acrimony heated up again last Saturday night during the Penguins' 5-1 win at Philadelphia.
Flyers captain Mike Richards attributed the eight penalties called against his team in large part to what he felt were acting jobs by the Penguins: "It's tough when you play Pittsburgh; they are going to be falling down pretty easy."
Richards also spent a considerable amount of the third period chiding Matt Cooke because the Penguins enforcer refused to fight him.
"Yeah, I was chasing him around last year in this building and he wouldn't have anything to do with it," Richards said. "I guess if Sidney Crosby fights (Dan) Carcillo, maybe I will be able to fight him."
Cooke shrugged the matter off.
"He can say whatever he wants," Cooke said. "I've had a lot of confrontations with him and the gloves have never come off. If he wants to sit there and elbow me in the head, that's pretty cheap."
The Panthers have two new team rules this season: don't walk across the team logo in the locker room and don't drop a jersey on the floor. Either offense carries a $500 fine.
GM Mike Santos and captain Bryan McCabe came up with the idea as a way to bring some pride back to the organization. The Panthers have missed the playoffs for nine straight seasons.
"We had this rule way back with the Islanders and he was the captain there," Santos said. "It's about having respect for your locker room and your organization. It's simple. You can see there's a lot more pride from these guys. It translates."
John Perrotto is an author of Puck Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.