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Logan Couture Emerging as Face of Sharks

Friday, 05.03.2013 / 3:03 PM / News
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Logan Couture Emerging as Face of Sharks
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have been the faces of the San Jose Sharks for years, but 24-year-old center Logan Couture has joined, if not surpassed them.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have been the faces of the San Jose Sharks for the better part of the past decade.

They're not alone on the marquee anymore. Logan Couture has joined them -- and maybe even surpassed them.

"Patty and Joe have been the face of the franchise for many years now, but since Logan got here I have been his biggest fan," said veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, pausing as he carefully chose his words. "He's a tremendous player. He plays in all three zones. You want him on the last minute of the game, whether you are up or down a goal, he's going to block a shot or score.


"Whether it's his team or not, he's just an amazing player, I'll just put it that way."

Thornton was willing to be a little more blunt.

"Logan, this is his team," Thornton said. "He's going to be a great player for a long time."

Logan Couture
Center - SJS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 2 | +/-: 0
A four-year NHL veteran at age 24, Couture is already great, combining defensive awareness and intensity well beyond his years with All Star-caliber offensive skills while working his way up an impressive Sharks depth chart.

Selected by San Jose with the ninth pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, Couture scored more than 30 goals in each of his first two seasons with the Sharks, then led the team with 21 this season. He's already scored 89 goals and recorded 167 points in 232 career games and has played in the NHL All-Star Game.

Couture picked up where he left off in the regular season when the Sharks started the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, scoring the tying goal on a power play and setting up Marleau for an insurance goal with 5:32 left to secure San Jose's 3-1 win in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

As impressive as his offensive arsenal is, it's Couture's two-way game that really sets him apart. Matched up against opponents' top lines this season, Couture still managed to lead the Sharks in goals and trailed only Thornton with 37 points, earning accolades as future -- if not present -- Selke Trophy candidate.

It's fitting, then, that Couture cites a 2011 playoff against three-time Selke winner Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings as the moment he knew he belonged.

"I lined up a lot against Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg, and I realized I could play against those guys and contribute offensively," said Couture, who finished the series with seven points and scored in each of the final four games to help San Jose advance to the Western Conference Finals against Vancouver.

"That was the point where I said I can be a good player in this league and took it into last year and had a good year and have grown a lot this year as well."

Couture credits the players others now compare him to for that growth.

"I have been fortunate to come to the rink every day and learn from those guys," Couture said of Thornton and Marleau. "They've been through a lot, whether it is in the NHL or internationally, they have experienced a lot, and I've picked up little things from them and added it to my game and it has helped me."

As for his defense, which includes being third among NHL forwards with 51 blocked shots this season, Couture credits his history as a street hockey goalie.

"I have always enjoyed blocking shots," Couture said. "When I was a kid, I played road hockey and I was always the goalie. I just enjoyed stopping the puck for some reason. I try to help our goalies out. [Goaltender Antti] Niemi has been unbelievable this year. Guys love playing in front of him and helping out any way we can."

Niemi appreciates it, though he's got a couple of pointers.

"He goes down too early sometimes," Niemi said with a wry smile. "He likes to be a goalie, too. I think he has goalie gear back home. He is just a tough guy who loves hockey, plays with emotion. He is our top scorer, but he also makes huge blocks and saves pucks from the goal line. He is a special player."

Couture has embraced his role as an emerging leader, but remains soft-spoken in the media, especially when praise is being heaped upon him. He may be the future face of the Sharks, but it's harder to imagine Couture as their voice.

"But quiet leaders are sometimes the best leaders, in my opinion," Boyle said. "If he doesn't say two words in the locker room, I don't care. He leads on the ice."

He does it with a motor that never stops revving.

"He just competes," Thornton said. "He doesn't necessarily have to say a lot. It's just his effort on the ice. He just battles. You always see his legs moving."

They rarely stop -- at either end of the ice.

"He has come so far in a few years," coach Todd McLellan said. "He has a full 200-foot game, both sides of the puck, power play, penalty kill, faceoffs. His competitiveness is rubbing off on some of our older players, and when that starts happening you have really made your mark in the National League."

He's already made it in San Jose, whether as the face of the franchise or not.

Author: Kevin Woodley | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 47 31 10 6 139 124 68
2 NSH 45 30 10 5 137 104 65
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 48 26 14 8 135 117 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 45 26 16 3 124 114 55
8 CGY 47 25 19 3 136 125 53
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 48 20 18 10 125 137 50
11 DAL 46 21 18 7 144 151 49
12 MIN 46 20 20 6 128 137 46
13 ARI 46 16 25 5 105 156 37
14 EDM 47 12 26 9 109 158 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 48 24 18 10 42
L. Couture 48 18 24 2 42
J. Thornton 44 10 27 0 37
B. Burns 48 11 24 -6 35
P. Marleau 48 9 24 -10 33
T. Wingels 47 11 14 -2 25
J. Braun 47 1 18 4 19
T. Hertl 48 8 9 -2 17
M. Vlasic 47 6 10 13 16
J. Sheppard 42 4 9 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 19 11 5 .912 2.57
A. Stalock 5 5 1 .905 2.65
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