There are a lot of players in the American Hockey League who never get promoted to the National Hockey League. It’s even harder when a player starts in a lower minor league. Rookie center Andrew Desjardins
had to begin his pro career in the Central Hockey League. At least for him, it seems to have been the perfect path.
The CHL is a terrific league that fills their buildings more than the average NHL fan would think. Some fine hockey is played at that level, but most of the players will probably never make the NHL. There are about five current NHL players with CHL time on their resume.
Desjardins, who was promoted from San Jose’s top development affiliate in Worcester yesterday, beat the odds.
“It was a pretty good experience, I guess,” Desjardins said. “It helped me and was a good stepping stone. It’s a long way from there and it just feels good. You always dream of being here and you just stay with it and keep doing the same things. I guess you get rewarded if you do the right things. It feels awesome.”
Desjardins began with the Laredo Bucks and posted 59 points in 62 games in 2007-08. That propelled him into being a regular in Worcester, along with a brief stop in the ECHL. Desjardins’ stint in Laredo gave him much of the confidence he carries with him to this day.
“Going back to the Soo days (Desjardins played his junior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie), I was a checker, just chipped in here and there,” Desjardins said. “The CHL days helped me to grow more offensively. I gained a lot of confidence there. In Worcester, I went back to the roots of being a little more of a checker, but having the confidence to chip in a little more.”
Should he get the call to play, Desjardins has felt out his peers for what he should expect.
“I’ve talked to Mash (Brandon Mashinter
) and Jos (Derek Joslin) and there’s an adjustment with the speed and how fast the puck moves,” Desjardins said. “I think you have to play in your own element and play a simpler game if that’s the type of role you’re put into.”
Desjardins knows his way around the faceoff dots, which fits in well with the Sharks prominence in the circles.
“Reech (Development Coach Mike Ricci) comes down once in a while (to Worcester). I’ve always been pretty good, but he’s helped me out a lot the last few years,” Desjardins said of why he’s so proficient when the puck drops. “He’s given me a few key things and that’s helped me out a lot.”
Desjardins was put on alert about coming to San Jose yesterday, but had to wait a bit.
“Yesterday morning, but it wasn’t 100 percent,” Desjardins said about being on stand-by. “I went to the game prepared to play yesterday afternoon in Worcester or to come up here and I just prepared mentally prepared for both. It was fortunate that they called me.”
Desjardins, who’s from Ontario and has been in training camp with San Jose, won’t forget the trip to his first NHL promotion.
“There was poor visibility so we circled (the airport) for about 45 minutes and our luggage was delayed as well,” Desjardins said. “I got a good rest (last night).”
JUST ANOTHER ROUTINE
Most players have a routine they follow on game days. For center Scott Nichol, there’s one pattern he follows at every morning skate. He takes the laces out of his skates for a fresh pair that he inserts upon arriving for the game.
“Every game,” Nichol said of his ritual. “In the American League, there’s a budget. Before (the NHL), they would be hanging on and I would be taking a match to them to keep them hanging together.”
Nichol can’t exactly recall why he started the habit.
“I enjoy new laces, I like the way they look,” Nichol said. “They feel good in my skate. I really have no logic to my madness. That’s what it boils down to. You know what it does? It gives me something to do because I come to the rink so early. It kills some time when I get here. It’s just my weirdness. My OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)”
WORLD JUNIORS OR WINTER CLASSIC?
Last year at this time, Nichol was at home cheering for Canada in the World Junior Championship, while his American-born kids were on the other side of the fence. With the rematch occurring today in the semifinals, would Nichol be facing the same household opposition?
“They’re not really into it this year,” Nichol said. “They’ve been so busy focusing on the Winter Classic. They haven’t really watched the World Juniors.”
ON THE RISE
Devin Setoguchi scored the game-winning and lone tally in Los Angeles on Saturday night and his overall strong play will have him on a prominent line spot against Vancouver.
“He’s just getting back, starting to find his groove,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said.
“There have been nights where he’s been very good from minute one. There have been nights where we’ve had to wake him up and he’s played well. He found an offensive comfort with (Dany) Heatley and Jumbo (Joe Thornton
) in L.A. the other night and he’ll start there again.”
The Sharks will play hosts to Vancouver Monday at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion and tickets can be purchased at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be aired on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.