Sharks update: World championships, Cooley on ‘gonna die’ comment, and Labanc’s final home game?

SAN JOSE – San Jose Sharks forwards Mikael Granlund, Fabian Zetterlund and William Eklund were coy about whether they would compete in next month’s IIHF World Championships in Czechia.

The Finnish-born Granlund and Sweden’s Zetterlund said they’ve spoken to their national team’s respective coaches about playing in the tournament. Eklund did not wish to say if he’s spoken with Swedish hockey officials.

The Sharks have three games left, starting with Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the team’s home finale. They finish the season with games against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday and the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

“We’ll see what’s going to happen,” said Granlund, who led the Sharks with 56 points before Saturday’s game. “I’m healthy right now and I’ve always liked to play in those tournaments.”

Granlund has played in six world championships for Finland, most recently in 2022 when he had 11 points in nine games to help lead Finland to a gold medal. Granlund also won gold in 2011, and silver in 2016 when he was named to the all-tournament team.

“In Finland. It’s a big tournament and as a player, I’ve always had a sense of pride to play in that jersey,” Granlund said of the Suomi sweater. “So, every time I’ve had a chance to go, I’ve gone. So, we’ll see.”

Zetterlund played in his first world championships last year and had three points in four games before Sweden was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Going into Saturday, Zetterlund had recorded career highs in goals (22), assists (20) and points (42).

“It was fun to play. Of course, it’s always a pleasure to play for your own country and put that jersey on,” said Zetterlund, who spoke just as Luke Kunin, chosen for Team USA, came over to listen. “But if I’m going, it’s going to be way better this year.”

Eklund didn’t want to discuss the upcoming world championships in much detail. Although he hasn’t taken part in the tournament before, he did represent Sweden multiple times in junior hockey.

“It would be really fun,” Eklund said. “It’s always a big honor to play for your national team.”

The Sharks could have other representatives at the event, which will serve as a prelude of sorts to the Four Nations Face-Off next February in which Canada, the U.S., Finland, and Sweden take part in international hockey’s first best-on-best tournament since the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The NHL will also break for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan.

Sharks players who competed in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia were forwards Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Granlund figures to be a part of Finland’s Four Nations and Olympic team. Finland has medaled in six of the last eight Olympic games, with four bronze (1994, 1998, 2010, and 2014), one silver (2006) and one gold (2022).

“There’s a lot of good Finnish players in the league,” Granlund said. “Obviously, as Finnish players, we’re proud of the way we play, how we play as a team and how everybody’s the same and one, and it’s always as a team.”

COOLEY AT EASE: Sharks goalie Devin Cooley on Saturday morning sought to clarify his eyebrow-raising comments Thursday night when he explained how he tries not to get too high or too low during games.

“It’s just like, nobody cares, you know?,” Cooley said after his 49-save effort in the Sharks’ 3-1 win over Seattle. “Nothing’s really going to matter, we’re all gonna die, you know? It sounds a little grim, but it helps keep me grounded.”

Cooley was surprised to see the reaction to the quote on social media.

“It was taken so out of context, that quote,” Cooley said. “I sometimes forget the reach the NHL media has. You’ve got to watch what you say a little bit. It was just about staying more in the present moment and how it works.

He said people thought he was having “a mental crisis.”

“Somebody check on him,” Cooley said with a laugh.

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