Couture: Thornton not to blame for Sharks woes

San Jose Sharks star Logan Couture defended his captain Joe Thornton, saying the centre is blamed far too often when the team isn’t successful. (Aris Bernales/AP/SFBay)

Sharks captain Joe Thornton often bears the brunt of criticism in San Jose for his team’s shortcomings, but Logan Couture doesn’t think it’s warranted.

“Jumbo takes a lot of heat when the team isn’t successful. It usually falls on his shoulders and obviously I don’t agree with that,” Couture told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Tuesday. “We win as a team, we lose as a team. As cliché as that is, one person isn’t going to win a championship.”

The Sharks have been one of the best regular-season teams over the last decade but have become notorious for underachieving in the playoffs. The Sharks became just the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs this past spring, as they were eliminated by the eventual Cup winners, the Los Angeles Kings, in the opening round.

Thornton generated just three points and was minus-6 in the seven-game series against the Kings.

“I’ve see firsthand how good of a player he is, and he’s been so good in the playoffs over the last couple years where he doesn’t deserve the heat that he’s taken,” Couture said.

The Sharks have been quiet this off-season since the majority of their 2013-14 roster remains intact. However, the team did part ways with veterans Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat, which led to speculation that Thornton could be on his last legs in San Jose.

Couture explained he and his teammates are motivated to help a respected veteran like Thornton win his first championship – Thornton currently has more points than any other active NHLer to have never won a Stanley Cup.

The 25-year-old, who is recovering from hand and wrist surgery, said he has had plenty of time to sit around and think about his team’s recent playoff collapse and plans on using it as fuel heading into the 2014-15 campaign.

“Obviously it was tough, the way we finished last year, but I’m really hoping this summer guys build off it and come back a lot stronger, a lot hungrier,” added Couture, who is currently in Toronto to participate in Dominic Moore’s annual Smashfest charity ping-pong event. “It’s probably the toughest loss I’ve been through… It was pretty devastating. It’s really stuck with me the whole summer.”