SAN JOSE -- Sharks captain Joe Thornton is returning to Switzerland, and teammate Logan Couture might be heading in the same direction as NHL players are starting to find places to play in Europe while the league sorts out its labor problems.
Thornton, who met his wife while playing in Switzerland for Davos during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, said Monday that it was the logical move to go back there with her and their daughter.
"I just want to go and play and get some games in and some practices in, just stay loose and feel good," said Thornton, who said he expected to be en route to Switzerland by the end of the week.
Couture confirmed that he is close to signing a deal with Geneva in the same league as Davos. Teammate Jason Demers will play in Finland, and Michal Handzus is expected to sign with a team in his native Slovakia.
In Davos, Thornton will be reunited with left wing Rick Nash, now of the New York Rangers. The two were linemates eight years ago and formed a strong friendship that kept San Jose in the hunt for Nash's services when he asked to be traded from Columbus earlier this year.
Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray, a native of Sweden, said he is still weighing his options. Unless rules are changed, he cannot play in the Swedish Elite League, but he said he has been in talks with his former team, Djugardens in Stockholm, which has fallen out of the top tier.
Murray was one of eight players on San Jose's NHLroster who rented a rink at Sharks Ice on Monday morning. European goalies Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss both said only that they were considering returning home to play.
The NHL officially locked its players out at 9 p.m. PDT Saturday, and no further bargaining sessions with the NHL Players Association are scheduled.
- The Sharks announced Monday that 16 players who normally would have been in rookie training camp this week have been sent to Worcester of the AHL.
Those heading to San Jose's top development team are forwards Curt Gogol, Freddie Hamilton, Bracken Kearns, James Livingston, Jon Matsumoto, Travis Oleksuk, Brodie Reid and Sebastian Stalberg; defensemen Sena Acolatse, Taylor Doherty, Danny Groulx, Matt Irwin and Matt Tennyson; and goaltenders Thomas Heemskerk, Harri Sateri and Alex Stalock.
- Some NHL teams already are offering interest on refunds for tickets to games that might be canceled, but the Sharks are not among them. Most of the teams doing so, executive vice president of business operations Malcolm Bordelon said, have collected 100 percent of the cost of 2012-13 season tickets, while the vast majority of San Jose fans have paid 70 percent to this point.
The Sharks explain their ticket policies in detail on the team's website, where there is also an open letter telling fans "we appreciate your patience and ask that you continue to bear with us."
For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks.