Eric Carlson knows he can still be great, and he doesn’t care who agrees

Across the white ceiling of the San Jose Shark practice facility, within the canary yellow rays that glow in reverence for the California sun, are white light fixtures in the form of giant metal-and-glass asterisks. The fact that the roof seems to keep the summer heat away from this ice shelter makes it perfectly clear that the play scene on the ice below is not a common occurrence. And the roof is not false: Below, a cadre of sharks spread across Ontario during this time, usually during the off-season, here for another season that is unusually full with them in the summer.

It’s late July 2021, and Eric Carlson is involved with Mario Ferraro at one end of the rink, explaining the intricacies of picking up his young teammate behind the net, navigating the opponent’s front and bringing it back from the defensive zone. The epidemic is responsible for this unexpected lesson – with restrictions on complicating travel plans and daily details returning to its normal off-season home, Carlson and his family have been selected to stay in San Jose for a full break before the 2021-22 campaign. Following in the footsteps of Ferraro, then-Shark teammate Jacob Middleton and young prospect Ozzy Weisblatt, the group grinds coffee at 8 a.m., grinds in the weight room from Monday to Friday, and engages in a gorgeous summer routine of such sessions at the Hall of Asterix.

This is a seemingly simple sequence, this breakout from the corner, but one that comes up again and again on the night of the game, if everything goes according to plan but passes on little notice, if not sets a potential catastrophe. And while most of the hockey world thinks Carlson’s days around the world are behind him, the former Norris Trophy winner is one of the best in the game to make sure everything goes according to plan, in these small, crucial moments.

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