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500 goals would be nice, winning a Stanley Cup more important for Roenick

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER - Joining the elite 500-goal club will be a great footnote to his career but what Jeremy Roenick really wants is to win a Stanley Cup.

"That's the only reason I'm here man," Roenick said Monday before his San Jose Sharks played an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks. "If that doesn't happen (win a Cup) it will be a disappointment." Roenick is on course to become the 40th NHL player, and just the third born in the U.S., to score 500 goals.

"That would be great," said Roenick, who signed as a free agent with the Sharks this summer after a couple of frustrating seasons in Phoenix and Los Angeles. "That would be a true treat but that's not my goal right now. That will be something I can look back at when I'm done and really feel good about myself.

"No. 1 would be the Stanley Cup."

Roenick, a 37-year-old native of Boston, remained stuck on 497 career goals following the Sharks' 4-2 win over Vancouver on Monday. The two goals he scored this year both came in a 3-1 win over the Canucks on Oct. 5.

The only other U.S.-born players to score 500 goals are Mike Modano with 507 and Joe Mullen with 502.

Roenick, a nine-time all-star during his 18-year NHL career, has never won a Stanley Cup. He flirted with the idea of retiring after managing just 11 goals and 17 assists for a Phoenix team that finished last in the Western Conference.

That changed when the Sharks offered the two-time 50-goal scorer a one-year deal worth US$500,000.

Knowing he was just five goals short of 500 had nothing to do with Roenick deciding to play one more year.

"I was ready to retire without it," he said. "It was more being on a winning team and having a chance to win a Cup.

"I wouldn't play for a team that is going to go out and lose every night again. It's too hard mentally, physically, emotionally. It backfires into the family life. At this point in my career I couldn't do that."

In the past, Roenick was expected to be the big dog leading a team. On a Sharks club loaded with talented players like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek, he's happy to be part of the pack.

"It's a treat coming to the rink every day," said Roenick. "It's fun knowing I just come and be one of 25 guys. I don't have to carry a load but want to help pull. That's a good feeling for me."

Coach Ron Wilson said the Sharks don't expect a lot of goals from Roenick.

"We're looking more for his leadership and the things he will say before a game and during a game on the bench," said Wilson. "We're not looking for Jeremy to score 80 or 90 points.

"We just want him to contribute and push our young people and try and pass on the wisdom he's picked up over the years."

Roenick can be outspoken and sometimes be a distraction.

He caused a stir last season when he was a healthy scratch from the Phoenix lineup for a game in Vancouver. He didn't attend the game and instead watched it on TV from a local steakhouse.

Thornton said he doesn't mind a player like Roenick who speaks his mind.

"I think we need more of those kind of guys in the league, to be honest with you," he said. "I love the way he plays and I love the way he talks. He's good for the game and good for his locker-room."

Roenick knows a lot of people had written his career off. That's why he's thankful that San Jose GM Doug Wilson has given him another chance to win a Stanley Cup.

"A lot of different people will throw you under the bus, out to the wolves, if they don't feel you can help them any more," said Roenick. "It's nice to know not everybody is like that.

"It's been a couple of hard years. I've been battling on teams that were in the losing bracket. Being on a team like this that's focused on winning, it's very professional, a very classy organization.

"It's a nice way to come to the building every day."

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