In the NHL, players are used to sharing their accommodations. On the road, the bulk of them share a room with an assigned teammate. However, when Sharks players return to the Bay Area, they usually head for the comforts of their own home.
That is unless a teammate does not have a home. Rookie winger Steve Bernier had lived in the team hotel through training camp, his first call-up and continuously through his most recent stay. Now, he finally has a place to call home thanks to Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
Marleau and his wife, Christina, moved the young right winger into their house prior to the recent five-game road trip.
“I just wanted to help out,” said Marleau. “He’s been living out of the hotel for a long time. My wife feels for the guys in the hotel, too.”
The two have become more familiar with each other through two training camps and by playing on the same line this year. But as housemates, the familiarity is getting stronger.
“We’ve gotten to know each other a lot better,” said Marleau. “We talk when we’re driving in and at the dinner table.”
The Sharks Lady Byng Memorial Trophy candidate knows the feeling of living in a hotel.
“When I was a rookie, I got here in early September and lived in the hotel until the end of October,” said Marleau.
It was then that Sharks veteran netminder Kelly Hrudey took Marleau under his wing and moved the rookie center in with his family.
“I loved having Patty with us,” said Hrudey. “We gave him his privacy to do whatever he wanted, but let him know he was always welcome and invited to join us.”
Hrudey says that it was a two-way street when it came to who benefited from the relationship.
“Even though I get credit for taking him in, I give him credit for rejuvenating me,” said Hrudey. “I was near the end of my career and I got to be around that youthful exuberance every day.”
“I gained a lot of experience just being around Kelly,” said Marleau. “I learned things I had no idea about. The first year, it is nice to have someone to talk to and get their feedback. He is very wise, so I listened to everything.”
As for the current situation, Bernier is missing out on the daily housecleaning provided by the hotel.
“He’s a pretty clean guy, so it’s O.K.,” said Marleau.
The Sharks captain also notes the differences between now and then.
“It’s a little different with Steve because he is a little older (Bernier’s 21st birthday is on Friday),” said Marleau. “He’s further developed.”
Bernier has only had to adapt to Marleau’s dog, while Marleau walked into the all-female Hrudey house. The dog factor is not a problem as Bernier hopes to have one of his own soon.
“I want to get a dog when I get my own place,” said Bernier. “I’ll get a really big dog some day.”
As for the “rent,” that can be worked out later.
“I hear he likes to cook, but he hasn’t yet,” joked Marleau.
Bernier says he is willing to step up soon.
“I know how, but his wife is really good,” said Bernier. “I can’t beat her. I’d like to take some cooking classes. I like to eat at home more than going out.”
The added bonus is that Bernier has access to a car so he doesn’t have to worry about renting or purchasing a vehicle between now and when he returns to Quebec in the summer. The overall benefits to Bernier are immeasurable.
“This is an awesome thing to happen to me,” said Bernier. “I’m learning a lot from him, not just hockey. It’s helping me learn English faster. Then, I’m learning things about San Jose, like not confusing Highways 880, 680 and 280. It is making me more comfortable here.”
And the way the two are playing on a line with fellow rookie Milan Michalek, Bernier will be comfortable here for a long time.
Sharks defenseman Matt Carle was named first-team All-America by InsideCollegeHockey.com today. The rookie blueliner who competed for the University of Denver is also expected to be named an American Hockey Coaches Association All-American when they announce the team next week as well as an All-American for USCHO.com.