Jeremy Roenick contemplated retirement after finishing his 2006-07 season with the Phoenix Coyotes with 495 career goals. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the San Jose Sharks were able to convince Roenick to play another season.
After reaching a milestone in his first game this season against his former club, Roenick looks to help the Sharks continue their recent dominance of the Coyotes on Monday in the second of three games between the Pacific Division rivals this week.
After disappointing seasons with Los Angeles and Phoenix over the last two years, Roenick considered hanging up his skates. But Sharks general manager Doug Wilson - Roenick's teammate with the Chicago Blackhawks during Roenick's first three NHL seasons - persuaded the nine-time All-Star to come to San Jose to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
That move has paid off for Wilson and the Sharks (8-7-2), as Roenick is second on the team with 10 points in 15 games. He notched his 500th career goal on Saturday in San Jose's 4-1 home win over Phoenix - the team he played for last season and from 1996-2001.
"It's weird how things work out," said Roenick, who became the third American-born player to reach the milestone. "I scored my 50th goal in my hometown at the Boston Garden. I scored my 100th goal at home in Chicago Stadium, and this one comes against a team I've played for and in the city I live in. A lot of people threw me to the dogs after last year and this team gave me a chance."
Roenick's goal helped San Jose win its fifth straight against Phoenix (7-8-0). The Sharks have outscored the Coyotes 22-7 in that stretch, dating back to an 8-0 loss to the Coyotes on Dec. 30, 2006. Despite his team's struggles against the Sharks, Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky applauded Roenick's achievement.
"It's a nice milestone. Anytime you do something in this game that's such a nice record, its always a great accomplishment," said Gretzky, the all-time leader with 894 career goals. "It was a nice night for J.R. It's good for him and it's good for his family."
Saturday's win was just the Sharks' second in six home games. After finishing with a franchise-record 107 points last season, San Jose is looking for its first pair of back-to-back victories since Oct. 20-22.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, are 5-2-0 on the road despite the loss in San Jose. They're in last place in the Pacific, but trail the first-place Sharks by only four points.
Forward Steve Reinprecht scored Phoenix's lone goal Saturday, and has four goals and four assists during his four-game points streak. He has 10 goals and an assist in 10 career games in San Jose.
Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is 12-10-1 with two ties and a 2.64 goals-against average in 29 career games against the Coyotes. In his last three games against them, though, he's 3-0-0 with a 1.34 GAA.
In five career games against San Jose, Phoenix goalie Alex Auld is 1-3-1 with a 3.42 GAA.
These teams meet again in Phoenix on Thursday.