|San Jose Sharks center Scott Nichol (21) congratulates teammate goalie Antti Niemi (31) after beating the Washington Capitals, 2-0, after their NHL hockey game at the Verizon Center in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) |
On June 26, 1993, in the eleventh round of the NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabres were trying to decide who to take with their final pick. They called former Sabre Brent Peterson who was coaching a Junior team in Portland and asked about one of his players.
“Yea, take this kid,” replied Peterson. “It’s your last pick of the Draft. What do you have to lose on him?”
So the Sabres drafted him.
Thus began the professional hockey career of Sharks center Scott Nichol.
Nearly 18 years and 11 NHL seasons later, Scott Nichol continues to exceed expectations. He is the quintessential underdog; at 5-foot-9 he is the smallest player on the Sharks roster, but he ranks fourth on the team in hits (114) after only playing 56 games this season.
The man plays like he has no fear. But it turns out there is one thing the 36-year-old is scared of. Find out that answer – and a lot more – in this segment of Ask the Sharks.
1. Do you enjoy surprising bigger guys in fights with how tough you are? – EvilJohnny via Twitter
Yes, I like to surprise them. Because if not, that means that I’m getting beat up.2. Scotty, what have you done to keep busy while you were injured? – TealPavelski via Twitter
I’ve been doing lots of rehab, lifting lots of weights, skating and riding the bike. They’ve been keeping me very busy even though I’m not playing. I’ve had long days at the hockey rink. 3. How have you changed your game as a Shark compared to how you played for Nashville? – Steve R. via Email
Our system’s a little different. I’m a little bit more in control because of the way our system is. What I do out there, I don’t have to do more or do anything special. I just have to go out there and play my style and it’s been pretty effective. Because we are such a good team, everyone is a little piece of the puzzle. My defined role would be penalty kills, faceoffs and creating energy. I can really just focus on those three things and help the team win.
4. Scott, how does being smaller than a lot of guys in the NHL affect your playing style? Do you think it gives you an advantage? –Shanners via Email
|San Jose Sharks center Scott Nichol, bottom, steals the puck away from Phoenix Coyotes left winger Lauri Korpikoski, of Finland, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. The Sharks won 4-2. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) |
I don’t think so. I think it’s just how I’m wired. If I was 6-foot-3, I would be wired the same, but maybe my personality on the ice would be different. Maybe it’s because I’m not the most gifted hockey player, so I really have to try harder than somebody else and be more determined to get that puck because say I don’t have the toe-drag move that some other guys have, I just skate right through them. 5. Hey Scott, when are you getting back on the ice? We miss seeing you out there man, take care. – Manuel via Email
I should be out tomorrow against Phoenix. I’ll hopefully play the last two games and get ready for playoffs. 6. Are all of your teeth real? – Ryan S. via Email
Haha. One, two, three… I think I’m missing my four upper teeth. But all the other ones are real. Not too bad. 7. What is your most memorable time in the NHL? – Tyler via Text
Probably my first NHL game. Nobody – probably even myself, I was an eleventh round draft pick, 270-something overall – ever really thought I would ever really make it, being a small guy. So probably my first game against the Washington Capitals. It was pretty special. It felt like I had never played the game. I felt like I was so out of shape because I felt like I didn’t breathe when I went out on the ice, I just held my breath on every shift. That would be right up there as one of my most memorable moments because of where I came from and where I got to. 7a. Did you attend the Draft that you were selected at?
No. I didn’t go. I got a phone call from my Junior coach telling me I got drafted. I didn’t really think I was going to be drafted because it was my first year Junior and I had put up some good numbers, but I was never even listed on the Central Scouting stuff. It was more of a favor. Brent Peterson – he’s the assistant coach at Nashville – but he was our head coach in Portland at the time and he had played for Buffalo so they asked him and he was like, ‘Yea, take this kid. It’s your last pick of the Draft. What do you have to lose on him?’ So they picked me and Buffalo never even called me – Brent Peterson called me and he was like, ‘Hey, you got drafted by Buffalo’ and then he told me something I probably can’t repeat to you, but he was like, ‘Hey, don’t mess this thing up!’ or something like that.
8. What's your most embarrassing moment being in the NHL? - Amanda V. via Text
|San Jose Sharks' Scott Nichol scores against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) |
Maybe scoring on my net in Nashville this year when Jordin Tootoo centered the puck up from behind the net and it my stick and went between the five hold on Nemo. That was probably my most embarrassing moment. Especially because it was in Nashville and Jordin was my teammate for four years and my linemate. I joked with him and told him I was surprised, that was the first time he ever put the puck on my stick in four years and I ended up scoring an own goal. 9. Last year you lead the NHL in faceoff percentage (60.6). What did you do (or continue to do) in practice that allows you to be so good on the draw?
Maybe my size because I can get low and get lots of leverage. I just kind of battle for the puck and, like I said, that’s one of the things they brought me here for so that’s what I pride myself on. It doesn’t matter what period, or what time of the game it is, or what the score is, I want to win that faceoff. It has a lot to do with determination and a lot to do with the help from my wingers and defensemen. 10. You play like you have no fear. Is there anything you’re scared of?
Not really. Maybe heights a little bit. You could probably say heights freak me out a little bit.