Sharks defenseman’s NHL career hit the skids last season, but he might be needed now


SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 13: The San Jose Sharks Radim Simek (51) plays the puck against the Las Vegas Golden Knights' Jonathan Marchessault (81) in the second period Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE – The San Jose Sharks have a handful of players looking for fresh starts this season with the team’s new coaching staff, and defenseman Radim Simek is right near the top of that list.

Simek vented his frustrations to a Czech website in May about how last season unfolded, saying the Sharks organization was not forthright with him about why he largely didn’t play over the final two months of the season.

Between injuries and healthy scratches, Simek only played in three of the Sharks’ final 27 games. He told the website, and reiterated Thursday, that the Sharks’ former coaching staff said management at the time wanted to see the younger defensemen play, and that management told him after the season that lineup decisions were left up to the coaches.

In all, Simek, who turned 30 on Tuesday, played in just 36 games and saw his average ice time drop to a career-low 13:17 per night – about four minutes less than it was two years ago.

But with general manager Mike Grier now in charge, and coach David Quinn behind the bench, Simek is ready to turn the page and is enthusiastic about what’s ahead.

“I had a great summer, feeling good, working out,” back in the Czech Republic, Simek said, “I’m feeling healthy, the knee is good. I couldn’t wait for the first practice. I’m feeling so, so great.”

Simek is at his best when he’s using his body to end plays in the defensive zone, and joining the rush whenever the opportunity arises.

But Simek hasn’t quite been the same player since he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his knee in a March 2019 game against the Winnipeg Jets. Simek, who also damaged his meniscus in the accident, missed the rest of that season and the Sharks’ playoff run to the Western Conference final.

Simek was still dealing with some knee issues a year later and played just 48 games during the 2019-2020 season. In the COVID-19 season of 2020-2021, Simek saw his ice time drop by an average of three minutes per game, as Nikolai Knyzhov joined Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and Mario Ferraro as the Sharks’ top four defensemen.

Simek’s situation didn’t really improve from there, and toward the end of last season when he knew he wouldn’t be in the lineup, Simek said he was actually using his time on the ice after practices and morning skates to get physically ready for the World Championships.

Simek would go on to help the Czech Republic win the bronze medal, a needed lift from a hockey standpoint after a disheartening season on the ice. “It was so good for me,” Simek said of playing for his country.

SAN JOSE, CA – FEBRUARY 13: The San Jose Sharks Radim Simek (51) plays the puck against the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault (81) in the second period Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Off the ice, the first half of 2022 was a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

      

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