By Jeremy Lemoine
WORCESTER, Mass. — ‘Tis the season in professional hockey. What season is that you ask? Well, the NHL trade deadline is lurking right around the corner and teams around the league must decide whether or not they are a playoff team.
For the San Jose Sharks, there is absolutely no question in anyone’s mind that Team Teal is in. Now it’s time for General Manager Doug Wilson and his staff to decide if the Sharks have what it takes to win Lord Stanley’s Cup, or make a move or two to improve the team to where it needs to be to raise that Silver Cup.
Currently, San Jose has a few injuries to some key players. When that happens, the AHL affiliate team usually can fill the gap by sending a player to their parent club. For the Worcester Sharks, that happens to be the case. With snow falling profusely in New England on Tuesday night, Worcester forward Mathieu Darche was woken up in the middle of the night by the best news of the year.
Darche received “the call” as many would say. Unfortunately, the All-Star left winger was left stranded at Logan Airport trying to get a flight to Nashville to play in his first NHL game of the season. Finally, on Wednesday evening, the Montreal native boarded the plane and touched down in the Music City at 9:00 p.m.
Although it was too late for the game, it was ok because Darche is in the NHL and will get his chance to shine.
On Thursday, San Jose practiced in Nashville, but Darche was left with the only option of watching because his equipment had not yet arrived. He had no change of clothes either.
Darche’s equipment finally arrived on Thursday night and he will take part in the morning skate in Columbus. Ironically, Darche made his NHL debut in Columbus during the 2000-01 season. He skated in nine games, but did not register a point.
Tonight, he hopes to get that point in Columbus and add to his career NHL totals of 1+1=2 in 26 games played.
Darche may have a very positive piece to add to his chances as rookie Joe Pavelski
may be able to return to the lineup. Pavelski has missed the last six games due to injury.
Darche and Pavelski hooked up in Worcester during the beginning of the season to form one of the most formidable offensive tandems in the AHL. Darche was on pace to record 20 goals in under 20 games, something that has not been done in the AHL for some 13 years. The tandem worked together in 16 games and combined for 50 points (Darche - 16+8=24) (Pavelski – 8+18=26).
For his efforts, Little Joe was named October’s American Hockey League rookie of the month. Worcester fans knew it just had to be to-good-to-be-true and it was, because on the early morning of November 22nd, Pavelski was whisked away to San Jose and has yet to look back as he scored four goals in his first five games including a game-winner. In 29 games with the NHL Sharks, Pavelski has tallied 11 goals and 9 assists for 20 points and a plus-six rating.
Recently, he has been with a foot injury, but will return during this eight-game road swing.
Tonight is as good as any to put that magical combination of Darche and Pavelski back together and hit Columbus with something they’ve never seen before!