Luke Kunin talks one-year deal with Sharks, wife Sophia’s PWHL championship and her retirement

Luke Kunin talks one-year deal with Sharks, wife Sophia’s PWHL championship and her retirement

Luke Kunin has had an eventful summer.

After finishing the regular season with the San Jose Sharks, the 26-year-old forward traveled to Czechia for the IIHF World Championship in May. Afterward, he returned to the United States just in time to see his wife, Sophia, win the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League championship with Minnesota on May 29.

Now, he’s officially back in the fold with the Sharks. Kunin signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with San Jose on June 30, and he’s thrilled to be part of the franchise’s new era this season.

“I’m very excited,” Kunin said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. “Being there two years, battling and seeing what we’ve gone through, I think we’re on the rise for sure with the talent that we’ve drafted and the prospects and the players that we brought in.

“The relationship I have with (coach Ryan Warsofsky) and the coaching staff, knowing how excited and the energy that he has for this team moving forward, I couldn’t be more excited. I’m really looking forward to getting there and getting going.”

Kunin recorded only 18 points in 77 games with the Sharks last season, but Warsofsky singled out his professionalism last month.

“I can’t say enough good things about Luke Kunin,” Warsofsky said in Las Vegas. “We need more Luke Kunins, just what he brings to the table, on the ice, off the ice.”

Kunin, named San Jose’s alternate captain in February, was flattered by Warsofsky’s high praise ahead of his first year in charge.

“It means a lot,” Kunin said. “Something I try to do every day and how I come to the rink every day, how I approach life, just do the right things. Try to work hard and be a good person first and foremost and a good teammate. It’ll be huge, especially with the young guys that we have, trying to be the best pro possible. Really good example for these guys and help them in any way that I can.

“It was definitely a very cool compliment to hear your coach say something like that. Just makes you want to give him that much more.”

So far, Kunin has been giving a lot of advice to the Sharks’ younger players, including Will Smith, who played alongside him at the World Championship and recently signed to join the Sharks. Smith’s questions have covered every aspect of playing pro hockey in San Jose.

“There was a little bit of everything,” Kunin said. “Asking about San Jose, asking about the rink, you name it. Where the best places to live are, restaurants. Whatever it was, he was asking, he wanted to know all about it.

“That was awesome for me to see how excited he was about it.”

Off the ice, Kunin will have a key supporter this season. Though he re-signed with the Sharks, Sophia decided to hang up her skates this summer. So, while Kunin will be mentoring rookies Macklin Celebrini and Smith, he’ll have his own support system in San Jose.

“At the end of the day, it’s her choice,” Kunin said. “We had some talks even before the season that this was potentially going to be her last year. Being married, wanting to spend more time together than apart like we had the last few years, hopefully have a family and be together, that’s what went into that.

Related Articles

San Jose Sharks |

Sharks sign another first-round pick to entry-level contract

San Jose Sharks |

Sharks mailbag: Should Grier swing big and go after top-tier goalie prospect?

San Jose Sharks |

What does Mike Grier expect from the Sharks this season?

San Jose Sharks |

Should Celebrini and Smith be the Sharks’ top two centers this season?

San Jose Sharks |

Sharks ticket, jersey sales surge after Celebrini signing, team exec says

“She loves the game, loves everything about it, loved her time playing in Minnesota and how the league went. It was just I guess her time.”

He’ll now be seeking a Stanley Cup with the Sharks to match the title Sophia won with Minnesota.

“We’re a pretty competitive family, so you never want to be the one on the losing end of things,” Kunin said. “And yeah, she won a championship, so definitely I want to win something as well.”