SAN JOSE -- Logan Couture knows that the locker room cubicle he is standing in front of at Sharks Ice could be off limits by Saturday.
But he and the other players who showed up for a lengthy but informal scrimmage Monday say they are preparing for the upcoming NHL season as if it were business as usual, and not threatened by a lockout because of stalled labor negotiations.
"We're getting ready for the season to start and we'll see what happens when the time comes," said Couture, who added he generally stays optimistic, but "as time gets closer and nothing happens, you can only start to get a little pessimistic."
The NHL owners have told players they will shut things down if a new collective bargaining agreement is not in place when the old one expires Saturday. No further talks are scheduled, but that could change after the players' association finishes two days of meetings and the league Board of Governors convene Thursday in New York.
Training camps around the league are not scheduled to begin until Sept. 21, but a majority of the Sharks took part in Monday's skate, including captain Joe Thornton and many of the team's veterans.
Ryane Clowe said it should be no surprise that talks are coming down to the wire.
"People say, 'Why didn't you start negotiating sooner?' but it always seems to come down to the last minute anyway," he said. "I'm guessing that's going to happen."
The two sides are separated by more than just what percentage of league revenues should go to the players. The union's original proposal agreed to some givebacks, but also called for the NHL's wealthier teams to provide greater financial assistance to struggling franchises.
Clowe noted it takes two sides to agree to long-term contracts like the 13-year, $98 million deals that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild this summer.
"You've got owners who have signed these deals, too," Clowe said. "You've got to look in the mirror a little bit and decide what side of the fence you're on."
Players said the NHL Players Association does a good job of keeping everybody informed through a private phone app.
"You log in and you read what went on for the day," Couture said.
Douglas Murray is San Jose's lone representative on the union's negotiating committee. Couture said Murray, Tommy Wingels and Brent Burns would represent the Sharks in New York on Wednesday.
"It's an old injury that kept coming up and it was time to say enough's enough," he said. "It definitely didn't hinder my play."
"It's not a big challenge at all," he said of the uncertainty, "because we're preparing as if we're going to play. . . . If you ask me two weeks from now, the challenge begins then because you have to alter your plans."
McLellan said new assistant coach Jim Johnson has settled in and new associate coach Larry Robinson expected to arrive later this week.
For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks.