This past Saturday, Comcast Sportsnet California provided a nostalgic hockey fix with the first of many Sharks Classic Games. It was a game from the second season. The Sharks beat the Kings 7-3 on Boxing Day 1992. It was the only win in a span of 34 games...Ouch...or Yea ... depending if you're a glass is half full or empty.
It got me thinking about the early days of the team when I was an Assistant Coach.
In fact, the last time Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson and I spoke, we reminisced about the years and the team at the Cow Palace.
We may have lost a lot of games but I have nothing but fond memories about the great people that made up those teams. So I went back to the Sharks Inaugural Team roster and wanted to pass on some trivia and a few "where are they nows."
In that first year we had 45 players suit up for at least one game. That is an amazingly high number and pretty tough to develop continuity with 45 guys in and out of that line-up.
One of the aspects I'm most proud of us that many of those 45 players have gone on to prominent roles in hockey.
Our Captain Doug Wilson is of course is now our GM.
Paul Fenton is Assistant GM of the Nashville Predators.
Dean Evason (one of my all time favorite people) is Head Coach of the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL).
Kelly Kisio is GM of the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) and he has also had stints behind the bench.
Mike Sullivan is Assistant Coach of the New York Rangers and he has also been a Head Coach in the AHL and NHL with Boston.
Wade Flaherty is the Goalie Coach of the Winnipeg Jets.
Johan Garpenlov is the General Manager of Sweden's National Team.
Mikhail Kravets ("The Human Zamboni") is the Interim Coach of SKA St. Petersburg (KHL).
Rob Zettler works for the Toronto Maple Leafs as an Assistant Coach as well as having a great stint with the Sharks Coaching staff.
Arturs Irbe, Jeff Hackett and Brian Lawton also held coaching and managing jobs in the Pros.
Ed Courtney, JF Quintin and Tony Hrkac have coached or are still coaching at high levels.
Speaking of Tony Hrkac, he was the first of two Hobey Baker Award Winners as the top U.S. College Player to play for the Sharks. Do you know who the other one is? Kip Miller, who happened to score the very first Sharks goal at the Compaq Center, now HP Pavillion.
Speaking of first goals, many of the Sharks historically significant first goals were scored by American born players.
First ever Sharks goal - Craig Coxe born in Chula Vista, California.
First Goal at the Cow Palace - Wayne "Elvis" Presley born in Dearborn, Michigan.
The aforementioned Kip Miller from Lansing, Michigan.
Sharks first playoff goal Shawn Cronin, "CroDaddy" is from Flushing, Michigan.
We had a few players that I maintain were too smart and well educated to be hockey players. I'm not saying NHL’ers are dumb but these guys are off the charts brainiacs.
Brian Hayward is a Cornell Grad.
Steve Bozek graduated from Northern Michigan before playing in the NHL. After his career he got his MBA from Harvard and is now a very successful real estate entrepreneur.
Another one of my favorite people, Ken Hammond played in the NHL with a degree in Civil Engineering from RPI. After playing he completed his MBA in Accounting and Finance. He is now at Ernst Young Global Risk Services.
Peter Lappin went to Wharton and Dave Snuggerud is a science teacher.
A few of the Original Sharks have tried their hand at broadcasting.
Brian Hayward is the most successful. He has broadcast for Hockey Night in Canada, NBC, broadcasting Olympic Hockey and is the long time Color Analyst for the Anaheim Ducks.
Bob "Big Daddy" McGill is an Analyst for Leafs TV.
Perry Berezan sits in on Calgary Flames radio.
Jeff Odgers and Brian Mullen also sat behind the microphone calling games.
Other First Trivia
Dave Williams became the first New Jersey raised player to suit up for an NHL game.
Until being passed in 2008, Kevin Evans was the All Time Penalty Minute Leader in Professional Hockey. He still holds the single season record with 648 PIMs in the IHL.
Dave Snuggerud and Mark Pavelich were the first two Olympians to play for the Sharks.
Those first couple of years provided many challenges. The record speaks for itself. We weren't very successful on the ice. However, I would not have wanted to go through those ups and downs with any other group of men. They were a unique, smart, fun and close knit group. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I'm so grateful to have been a small part of it.