When Tomas Plihal steps on the ice for his first NHL game of the season Tuesday night at HP Pavilion, it will be the high point of a 2007-08 season that began in a very heartbreaking fashion.
There are no guarantees that Plihal would have made the Sharks opening night roster, but he had managed to stick around through the end of training camp and was playing regularly in the preseason. Then he suffered a separated shoulder that sidelined for the start of the year.
“It was very disappointing to play almost all the exhibition games and get hurt in the last one,” said Plihal.
There were positives in the scenario however that worked out for the 24 year old who moved to North American in 2001 to play in the Western Hockey League.
“I did the rehab in San Jose and got to hang out with the guys,” said Plihal. “There were some good things.”
Plihal has three NHL games under his belt from 2006-07, but those seem an eternity ago to the Czech Republic native.
“Last year I only had three games,” said Plihal. “This is still really exciting.”
Plihal will have some familiarity Tuesday night playing with Steve Bernier and Patrick Marleau
“I played with him in Worcester when I was down there last year,” said Bernier. “He is very good in his own end and hopefully we’ll bring more offense.”
“We played a couple of games last year,” said Plihal. “I think it will be a good line.”
Plihal has a strong all-around game and can play in most situations.
“He’s the kind of guy that plays very hard and is good defensively,” said Bernier. “He can kill penalties, but he has good offensive instincts. He is a good all-around player and I’m excited to play with him.”
Plihal’s parents won’t be able to see this game and will have to wait to see him in an NHL uniform for the first time.
“They only show games at home on Saturdays and Sundays and it’s normally at four in the morning,” said Plihal. “They haven’t seen me yet.”
Plihal is hoping that a good audition can lead to more NHL games allowing his parents to catch him some night on Czech television.
Sharks President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison will be part of the panel for the 2008 Comerica Bank Economic Forecast Conference this Thursday morning in Santa Clara. Anyone looking to attend can register at www.comerica.com/econ08.
The Sharks will host Chicago Tuesday night at HP Pavilion and limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.