For two San Jose Sharks, returning to the east coast will be a bit of a homecoming. Both Brad Lukowich and Dan Boyle
won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay, but for one, it will be his first time back.
“I’ve left and gone back there before, so it’s not as bad for me,” said Lukowich. “It’s emotional with a lot of friends calling the first time.”
Boyle on the other hand, hasn’t been back.
“We have to keep our game going,” said Boyle. “It’s not about me, it’s about the team. I’m not going to try and make it a big story.”
One thing that works in Boyle’s favor for the Tampa contest is he won’t have to deal with a lot of requests for dinner the night before. San Jose plays Florida the previous night and won’t arrive to the western part of Florida until the wee hours of the morning.
Lukowich would prefer it that way.
“I’d rather get in, play and get out,” said Lukowich.
Boyle is planning to keep things as quiet as possible, but he knows that will be almost impossible. He loved his time in the Sunshine State and when he signed his long-term deal, he added a no trade clause to stay. Boyle’s wife is from the area and he simply didn’t want to leave. For numerous reasons, that didn’t work out and now he will step into the visitor’s dressing room when the Sharks face Tampa Bay on Saturday.
As for friends on the opposite side of the ice, Tampa Bay has thoroughly changed over their roster and only a few players remain from last season.
“Four or five, maybe,” said Boyle. “I talk to Paul Ranger a little bit.”
Although Boyle enjoyed a great tenure in Tampa Bay, his alliance now resides in San Jose.
Sharks policeman Jody Shelley went through similar feelings when he returned to Columbus following his trade to San Jose. He was also happy with the team that traded him, but he also found happiness in his new home.
“My experience was really nice,” said Shelley. “You see the guy who drives the Zamboni, the ushers by the door; you just go to the other penalty box.”
But when the puck dropped, things change.
“When I went on the ice, I was competing to win games,” said Shelley.
It will likely be a bit strange for Boyle when he lands in the city where he became an All-Star player, but when the game begins, he will be looking to put another marker in the Sharks win column.
With the Ray in the World Series, there are two fans cheering them on in San Jose. Lukowich says he is not a huge baseball fan, but is cheering for the Rays. Boyle became friends with the Rays B.J. Upton and is very interested in rooting for Tampa Bay.
“I knew B.J. and try to keep up with him,” said Boyle. “He’s two homers away from the record. I went to a couple of games last year.”
Unfortunately for the Sharks, while they will visit Tampa Bay and Philadelphia on this three-game trip, their visits come opposite the World Series games.
“It would be nice to go see a game, but we’ll catch some on TV,” said Boyle.
ON THE ROAD
The Sharks are on their first extended road trip and these three games away from HP Pavilion can a good bonding time for a club with new faces.
“It’s good, especially with some new guys and some young guys,” said Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
. “We get to know each other better and can talk with each other. Sometimes it’s just one-on-one or with the group of guys. It’s good to go out for a few games. This trip is not too long.”
Team Teal was the NHL’s most dominant road club last year and are 2-1 this year.
“I think it would be really nice to try and equal or better last year’s mark,” said Marleau. “It’s been a good start at home. It’s nice to go into other team’s buildings and steal points.”
The Sharks will visit Florida at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Friday night and the game will be available on the Center Ice package, 98.5 KFOX and SJSHARKS.com.