#SJSharks center Logan Couture speaks before Tuesday’s game against Vancouver https://t.co/fY9W2vJAFG via @NHL
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) April 4, 2017
SAN JOSE — The good news for Sharks center Logan Couture is that he’s been able to chew some food the last couple days, was able to exercise Tuesday and hasn’t experienced any lingering head trauma issues since he took a deflected puck to his mouth 11 days ago.
But it’s still uncertain when Couture will begin to skate again and if he’ll be back for the start of the NHL playoffs in another eight or nine days.
Couture was at the Sharks’ practice facility Tuesday and spoke publicly for the first time since several of his teeth were damaged in a March 25 game against the Nashville Predators. Right now, Couture is taking things day-by-day.
“I’m focused on trying to get back on the ice and right now we don’t know when that’s going to be,” Couture said, “so that’s all I’m focused on.”
Couture said he hasn’t lost any weight since the incident as he goes through his third significant injury in the last two seasons.
Last season, he suffered a fractured right fibula in the first week of the season and in December, needed to have surgery to repair a small arterial bleed in his right thigh. He missed a combined 30 games in the regular season but came back to lead all players in the playoffs with 30 points in 24 games.
The Sharks are 2-2 in the last four games without Couture and thanks to a six-game losing streak from March 16-25, will basically need to win all of their remaining games to have any chance of capturing the Pacific Division. Entering Tuesday, the Sharks have 95 points and are four points back of first place Anaheim and two back of second place Edmonton.
The Sharks open a three-game homestand Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks, then close the regular season with games against Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday.
“Unfortunately for me these last couple years, I’ve sat out a lot of hockey games. I’ve had to watch too many hockey games, I think,” Couture said. “So, we’re going through a tough time as a team. We’re not playing great hockey but we won our last game. I know the guys in here, we’re positive, we’re going to stick with it and hopefully win another tonight.”
Couture credited doctors and dentists for trying to save his teeth on the night of the gruesome impact.
“Right when it happened, I went to the Nashville room where the doctors and dentists, they did a great job of trying to basically save my teeth,” Couture said. “They had to move a lot of them around, obviously from the impact of the puck. They were shifted in my mouth so they did a great job at that time of trying to save them.
“I went to Vanderbilt hospital and they brought a guy in there to put what’s called an arch bar on my teeth to try and save them basically.”
Couture said his upper and lower teeth were all damaged from the incident and that a lot of the teeth he has now will have to be taken out after the season.
“It’s basically temporary to try and have some teeth in my mouth. That’s pretty much it,” Couture said. “If they took them all out now then I’d be almost toothless.”
Couture returned to San Jose with the Sharks on March 26 and didn’t really open his mouth for the first couple days he was home. He said he’s been eating better the last two days and has been able to chew some food, mainly using his back teeth, with other food having to be cut up into small pieces.
Couture said he hasn’t thought about whether he’ll wear a full face mask when he does return, whenever that may be.
“I haven’t skated in 10 days, so you don’t know what kind of shape you’re in until you get back on the ice,” Couture said. “I’ve been able to stay at pretty much the same weight and we’ll once I get back to skating how I feel.”
At the very least, Couture said Tuesday was a step in the right direction.
“Today was a good day for me,” he said. “Get some exercise and feel good and we’ll go on to tomorrow when I get there and see what I can do.”