Hertl to lead Sharks against Predators in hometown Prague

Oct 6, 2022, 12:25 AM | Updated: 12:26 pm
FILE - San Jose Sharks' Timo Meier (28) and Nashville Predators' Matt Duchene (95) chase the puck i...

FILE - San Jose Sharks' Timo Meier (28) and Nashville Predators' Matt Duchene (95) chase the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. The San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators will play regular-season openers on Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct.8 at Prague’s O2 Arena as part of the NHL's return to Europe for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

PRAGUE (AP) — After the San Jose Sharks missed the NHL playoffs for a third straight season, Tomas Hertl is determined to turn things around.

Starting the new season in front of his hometown fans only adds to his motivation.

The Sharks and the Nashville Predators will open the regular season with matches on Friday and Saturday at Prague’s O2 Arena as part of the league’s return to Europe for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m glad I have a chance to play here, it might not happen again,” Hertl said after a training in front of a cheering crowd on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Czech center, who was drafted by the Sharks 10 years ago, recently signed a $65.1 million, eight-year contract to remain in San Jose. And he knows what kinds of expectations comes with that kind of money.

“I want to get San Jose back to the playoffs and I’m ready to do all I can to make it happen,” Hertl said.

New San Jose coach David Quinn hoped the circumstances provide a boost for his team.

“It’s a new season, it’s our opener so there’s a level of excitement unlike the other games you play throughout the season,” Quinn said. “But I think playing with Tomas in his hometown and being able to watch how excited he is certainly should provide a little bit of extra motivation for our guys.”

The Sharks also have Czech defenseman Radim Simek.

It’s the ninth season overall that the NHL comes to Europe as part of its efforts to grow the local fan base in hockey-mad countries like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland and others.

The Sharks have contested four previous games outside North America. They faced the Columbus Blue Jackets in Stockholm in two games in 2010 after they played the Calgary Flames for a couple of games in Tokyo in 1998.

Nashville has never played a regular-season game in Europe before. The Predators were set to open the 2020-21 season in Prague against the Boston Bruins before the pandemic scrapped the NHL’s plans.

Friday’s opener in Prague will mark the first NHL game in Europe since the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres faced off in Stockholm on Nov. 9, 2019.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers were the last NHL teams to play in Prague on Oct 4, 2019.

The league’s 2022 Global Series will be completed in Tampere, Finland, where the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche will face the Blue Jackets in another pair of regular-season games on Nov. 4-5.

The Predators hope to continue a run of eight straight playoff berths, an accomplishment that is tied with Washington for the second-longest active streak in the NHL.

They have added players to the team who could help make it happen, including defenseman Ryan McDonagh from Tampa and right winger Nino Niederreiter from the Carolina Hurricanes. They also signed Filip Forsberg to an extension after he and fellow forward Matt Duchene each tied the franchise record with 38 goals.

“We haven’t been really focused to say we’re better, we’ve got to perform,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We like the players that we have, we like the additions that we had to our team. … Now, it’s upon us, coaches and players, to put the work in and get to the identity we want to get to and be very consistent in how we play and then, our actions will determine how good we are.”

Duchene finished last season with 86 points, with Forsberg just behind on 84 in 69 games.

“I’m not really worrying about numbers,” Duchene said about his goals for the new season.


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


New York Rangers center Barclay Goodrow (21) and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar (55...
Associated Press

Rangers use 4-goal 3rd period to beat Golden Knights 5-1

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Mika Zibanejad had two goals and an assist, and the New York Rangers scored three times in 1:54 in the third period to beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 on Wednesday night. New York’s Artemi Panarin reached 600 career points, picking up his milestone point when he found Zibanejad, whose one-timer […]
1 day ago
FILE - Boston Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts fields the ball hit by Minnesota Twins' Luis Arraez during ...
Associated Press

AP source: Bogaerts to Padres for 11 years, $280 million

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster $280 million, 11-year contract Wednesday night, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup. A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical. The Padres […]
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives on Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second ha...
Associated Press

Tatum, Brown lead Celtics to easy 125-98 win over Suns

PHOENIX (AP) — The hardest task these days for the Boston Celtics might be staying humble. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown each scored 25 points, Malcolm Brogdon added 16 off the bench and the rolling Celtics embarrassed the sloppy Phoenix Suns 125-98 on Wednesday night. “You enjoy the moment, but you’ve got to understand why […]
1 day ago
FILE - Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras heads back to the dugout during the team's baseball g...
Associated Press

AP source: Cardinals, Contreras agree to 5-year contract

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Willson Contreras is going to St. Louis to replace Yadier Molina at catcher, agreeing to an $87.5 million, five-year contract with the Cardinals on Wednesday. A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical. The addition […]
1 day ago
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, rear, fouls Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga during ...
Associated Press

Fontecchio lifts Jazz past Warriors in short-handed matchup

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Simone Fontecchio dunked with 1.4 seconds remaining off Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s steal and the Utah Jazz beat the Golden State Warriors 124-123 on Wednesday night in a matchup of short-handed teams. “I couldn’t imagine anything like that. Just an amazing feeling, really happy and excited the way we got there,” said […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Lawrence’s free throws give Vanderbilt 75-74 win over Pitt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tyrin Lawrence’s two free throws with 1.1 seconds left gave Vanderbilt a 75-74 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. Pitt had taken the lead after Nelly Cummings capped an 8-0 run with a midrange jumper with 14.3 seconds remaining. Coming out of a timeout, Quentin Millora-Brown drove the baseline and passed […]
1 day ago
Hertl to lead Sharks against Predators in hometown Prague