First it was the summer off-ice workouts. Now Sharks players are beginning to hit the ice at the unofficial captain’s practices. The ice opened last week and the players in town are lacing up the skates even though the main training camp still a month away.
There’s a good amount of talent either already on the ice or about to step onto it. Sharks forwards Patrick Marleau
, Joe Thornton
, Joe Pavelski
and defesnseman Dan Boyle
are already in town. Roster hopeful Cam MacIntyre is in San Jose and hoping to get an early start. Others are set to hit the Bay Area soon and join them, along with a few former Sharks who make their offseason homes in California.
The current games are far from training camp intensity. Nobody wants to get hurt in what amounts to pond hockey. But at the same time, if there is a loose puck, the players will quickly kick into high gear.
“It’s the competitive nature of pro athletes,” said Marleau. “You’re out there against a teammate and you want to put on a good show.”
For a players like MacIntyre, who was in college last year, even the skate around with NHLers can be beneficial.
“It’s nice to have this extra ice right now before camp,” said MacIntyre. “I haven’t been on the ice with (the players currently on the roster). I want to be on the ice as much as possible.”
Most are putting skates on for the first time since the season concluded in Western Conference Finals, but it doesn’t take long to get the rhythm back.
“It’s kind of like riding a bike, but there are things you do lose,” said MacIntyre. “Your stick skills with your hands, it’s hard to replicate off the ice, so it’s good to get out here. August is a good month to get out and get the touch and feel back.”
“I’m sure there are some guys who do,” said Marleau about skating in the offseason. “I don’t know how second nature it is, but it comes back pretty quick. You find out you can run and bike a ton but it’s tough to simulate the skating stride and being on the ice.”
The camaraderie is as nice as the actual skating for the Sharks players.
“That’s the best thing about it, seeing guys trickle in,” said Pavelski. “Slowly building the group up.”
“It’s good to see everybody coming back in when you haven’t seen them all summer long,” said Marleau. “Seeing how their summers went.”
The rookies report in less than a month and the first preseason game is September 22. Then the real hockey will begin.
GAME TIME CHANGE
The start time for the Sharks April 4 game vs. the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion has been moved to 7 p.m.