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Dan's Thought of the Day - 4/12/2013

by Dan Rusanowsky / San Jose Sharks

Here are two sidebars from last night’s great Sharks win against the Detroit Red Wings that continued the tremendous history in the series between the two clubs. Both have a somewhat predictive quality, and one is illustrative of what hockey is all about.

If you listen to the “Coach’s Chalkboard” segment with Todd McLellan on KFOX 98.5/102.1 and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network affiliate stations near you, you usually get a gem or two from the leader behind the bench. Here is a modest case in point from last night’s game:

McLellan was showing some concern about the previous loss in Columbus, but he saw the Detroit game as a chance to squash the poor memory of that disappointment. “Our opportunity that lies in front of us is a good one,” he said on the radio. “There are some key people on our team that have to play a certain way and play well to lead and we expect everyone else to follow. Now, they can’t do that every night – it’s not humanly possible – so when they’re not doing it, others have to pick up the slack. But the key people right now are our leaders and they have to get things done.”

It was a bit of a message to the likes of Patrick Marleau, who had 0 goals in his previous 7 games and just 1 in his last 11; to Joe Thornton, who played a Sharks-career-low 10:30 in Columbus, and who had 0 points in his previous 3 games; to Martin Havlat, who had 1 goal in his previous 8 contests; to Logan Couture, who had 0 goals in 4 and 1 goal in his last 10 games; and to Antti Niemi, who had allowed 4 goals in each of his previous 2 starts.

Everyone played better, and the Sharks won in the shootout, 3-2, capturing the season series with the Red Wings with a 2-0-1 record. But as I pondered the greatness of the resolve and the win, I flashed back to a heartwarming moment that I witnessed in the morning.

The Sharks were heading out to morning practice, and as is the custom, a few folks were waiting to secure a handshake, a photo, or an autograph from them. As is usually the case, there were a few folks who I call “professional autograph seekers,” who are usually pretty recognizable.

But on this particular morning in Detroit, there was a young boy standing quietly, with his mother by his side. This Motor City youngster was wearing a Sharks jersey with the number 12, and the nameplate “MARLEAU” on his back. He wasn’t a professional autograph seeker. He was a Patrick Marleau fan who wanted a moment with his favorite player.

Patrick spotted his young fan, and stopped for a moment to sign the jersey and pose for a picture before departing for practice. As he walked away, I saw a look of sheer joy on the boy’s face, which was punctuated when he turned around and high-fived with his mother in celebration of the moment. “Patrick is going to have a good game for this kid,” I found myself thinking.

Well, we all know what happened next. Marleau scored a brilliant shorthanded goal in the first period, and scored another magnificent goal in the shootout that decided the game. Something tells me that his young fan in Detroit was high-fiving a lot of people last night, whether he was at Joe Louis Arena, watching on TV, or listening on the radio.

I love stories like that.

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