Rob Blake may have not shown it on the dais, but his retirement ceremony was a day of good emotions for him. The perennial National Hockey League All-Star officially hung up the skates in a press conference at HP Pavilion. Blake was joined by President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison and Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson on the stage.
Wilson noted how long he had worked to acquire Blake during his time as the Sharks top hockey executive.
“We tried to acquire him for so many reasons,” Wilson said. “He’s an elite level player, but he’s got a blue- collar heartbeat. He realized everybody was important. That’s what leadership is, when you look someone in the eye and deliver the message that I’m going to work hard and do whatever it takes to win. Rob really epitomizes that. It’s about what you do.”
Besides his on-ice contributions, Wilson also enjoys the family atmosphere Blake helped create.
“We had a father-son trip in Nashville and his dad was one of his idols,” Wilson said. “We had all the dads there. We win and it was his dad’s 75th birthday. After the game, all the players and coaches presented him with the game puck. The respect between the father and son was amazing. He’s real and that sits in my memory bank. That is how he lives his life.”
Blake said he’ll likely take some family time (until around Christmas) and then begin looking to get back into the game. Maybe it will come with the Sharks. Who knows?
“I told (his wife) if she gets tired of him being around the house to give me a call and we’ll find something to keep him busy,” Wilson said. “It’s been a privilege and honor to have Rob Blake on this hockey team.”
“We’re going to spend some time with the family,” said Blake of his immediate plans. “Recharge the batteries. I envision being in the game for many more years. We’ll work towards that goal in the next few months, but we’ll enjoy some family time.”
Blake is lucky he can walk away on his own terms with every career goal accomplished, including a gold medal and a Stanley Cup. In the end, he just knew it was right and didn’t need anyone to tell him.
“It’s in the back of your mind when you get to this age,” Blake said. “It didn’t take long after the season to make the decision. It just seemed like the right time.”
The words “class” and “dedication” were mentioned frequently during the event and Blake was true to his roots when it came his time to talk.
“Today, I have to announce my retirement,” Blake said. “It’s not a bad thing. I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with some great players. For that I’m very thankful. I want to thank Mr. Jamison and Doug for giving me this opportunity to come here. I want to thank the teams that I played on -- the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks -- for allowing me the opportunity to live a life-long dream. There are a lot of people behind the scenes. The doctors, the training staff, the coaching staffs. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Blake had hinted at the end of the season that he was 99 percent decided on his retirement thoughts (not saying which way he was leaning) and said the decision was made going back earlier in campaign. Now he can easily look back.
“It was a dream and I can sit up here and say I was fortunate,” he said.
While the NHL will wait a little bit, Blake mentioned he could end up helping out his son’s team.
“I’ve already been signed-up,” Blake said with a smile. “I got the assistant’s job. I didn’t quite get the head job.”
Blake will surely end up doing what he wants to do and be as successful as he was during his playing career.
Current Sharks players Joe Thornton
, Patrick Marleau
, Evgeni Nabokov and Devin Setoguchi attended the retirement celebration. Blake wasn’t surprised to see them as much as he was surprised to see three former Kings teammates: Tony Granato, now an assistant coach in Pittsburgh; Nelson Emerson and Glen Murray.
“That’s the emotional part,” Blake said. “The friends you make along the way. You realize which are the true ones and they stick with you. It’s special.”
Anyone who’s played against Blake knows how he could beat you. Those who played with him were additionally blessed.
“He hurt us a lot in past years playing against us,” Marleau said. “He scored a lot of big goals. Playing with him was just an honor. Getting to know how great of a person and player he is was great. You can’t help but notice and learn from a player like him.”