SAN JOSE — Joe Thornton and Logan Couture will both be back “at some point,” Pete DeBoer said Tuesday, although the Sharks coach would not give a specific time frame for each center’s return.
DeBoer said he expects both players back for the playoffs, although he did not say whether they’d be back for the first round, which begins April 12 and could last as long as two weeks.
Both Thornton and Couture both worked out at the Sharks’ practice facility Tuesday morning. Thornton had an MRI on Monday.
Couture was hurt March 25 when he was struck in the mouth by a deflected puck and had significant damage to several teeth. Thornton suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury on Sunday during a collision with Vancouver Canucks forward Michael Chaput.
Couture said he has not skated since the injury and does not know when he’ll be able to begin.
“That’s the goal, is to play hockey,” said Couture, who said a lot of the teeth that were put back into his mouth will have to be taken out again in the offseason.
“We’re taking it, at this point … today was a good day for me. Get some exercise and feel good and we’ll go on tomorrow when I get there and see what I can do.”
Thornton did not meet with the media on Tuesday but through a team spokesman, said he will talk on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s Sharks game against the Canucks will mark just the eighth game that Thornton has missed due to injury in his nearly 12 years with the team.
“It was tough for everybody. You just take for granted that’s he’s always there,” DeBoer said. “He’s just always been there and he isn’t. But we’re built for this type of adversity. We have depth. We have guys that can play (multiple) positions. It’s an exciting challenge.”
Asked if it can be assumed both players will miss the rest of the regular season, which ends Saturday with the Sharks hosting the Calgary Flames, DeBoer said, “I’m not getting into the semantics. The statement is the statement. I expect them both back. I don’t have a time frame and until then we’ll call it day-to-day.
“That could be Saturday, it could be a month from Saturday.”
DeBoer said the team is still sorting out who will fill the center positions for Tuesday’s game. Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney and Micheal Haley have all played center this season.
Asked what might be the next step for Thornton in his rehabilitation, DeBoer said Tuesday morning that his focus at that moment was getting his team ready to play the Canucks in their bid to try to move into one of the top two spots in the Pacific Division.
The top three teams in the Pacific are separated by four points, with Anaheim at 99, Edmonton at 97 and the Sharks at 95.
On Tuesday, if the Sharks beat the Canucks and the Ducks beat the Flames in regulation time, San Jose will finish no worse than third place in the division. Calgary enters Tuesday fourth in the division with 92 points.
“I get the reports, they’re dealing with it and what I’m giving you is what, in my mind, is where he’s at,” DeBoer said of Thornton. “So whether he’s at two doctor appointments between now and tomorrow, or whether he’s got an icebag on or whether he’s getting an injection, I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. I expect them back and we’re going to go with that.”