Once the Sharks allowed Joe Thornton’s contract negotiations to reach this stage in the game, a conversation with the Los Angeles Kings was inevitable.

The Kings are the Sharks’ closest geographical rival, they play in an even sunnier part of the state and the mere idea of No. 19 feeding passes from the half wall in a silver and black uniform is more excruciating than hearing Cartman scream, ‘Go Kings Go’ over the Staples Center’s PA system.

By allowing the NHL Draft to come and go without inking Thornton and Patrick Marleau to new deals, the Sharks gave the two cornerstones of their franchise an opportunity to interview with other teams for the first time in their careers in Teal, and they’re taking full advantage.

Thornton is talking with the Kings, according to L.A. Kings Insider Jon Rosen, and Marleau is reportedly in conversation with the Kings, the Anaheim Ducks, the Nashville Predators, the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes.

The news might be distressing for Sharks fans, but it shouldn’t be. It’s simply part of the negotiation process.

Both players are looking for multi-year contracts and they gain leverage by showing management that there’s a high demand for their services. Speaking with a hated rival, such as the Kings, just reminds general manager Doug Wilson of what could be at stake if these future Hall of Famers enter unrestricted free agency Saturday.