When you think of the Sharks defense, names like Scott Hannan, Kyle McLaren and Brad Stuart come to mind. Even in the 2003-04 season players such as Tom Preissing and Christian Ehrhoff garnered respect from press for various reasons. But perhaps one of the most underrated fixtures on the Sharks blueline is Rob Davison. Davison might be one of the more unassuming players returning from the Sharks Western Conference Finals team and this season fans are going to appreciate the hard-nose defenseman even more.
Davison was drafted by San Jose in the fourth round (98th overall) in 1998. He then paid his dues with two more years of junior hockey at North Bay and then spent more than two-and-half season with the Sharks top development team, first in Kentucky and then in Cleveland.
"Rob is a guy who works really hard on all the details," said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. "I'm proud he's gotten to this point. Nothing was ever given to him and he's earned everything to this point. His character is spotless."
Davison is more of a throwback player in that he focuses primarily on defense, which is not a bad choice considering his position. Offensively, Davison's goal totals in his first three AHL seasons were zero, one and one.
That is not to say he cannot move the puck. While not a high point total player, Davison has become a solid puck mover from the defensive zone and makes strong first passes allowing the forwards an easy transition to the neutral zone.
And when the situation calls for it, Davison knows how to protect his teammates. He recorded 200-plus penalty minutes in both junior and the AHL. However, the six-foot-three, 220-pounder knows that he must fight selectively as it is tough on his opponents when a defenseman has to sit
Not all of hit are a results of fights as Davison was named the OHL's Best Body Checker while at North Bay.
He broke in during the difficult 2002-03 season when his strong play in Cleveland earned the St. Catherine's, Ontario native 15 games near the season's conclusion. He registered a goal and two assists during the stretch, but more importantly, Davison showed he could play in the NHL.
And while not one of the louder voices in the lockerroom, Davison can more than hold his own when the chirping begins and when it comes time to pep up his teammates.
"On the ice, 'Davi' is as tough as they come and he can stand up for his teammates," said Wilson. "When he doesn't know something, he finds the answers. He didn't make it here by luck."
Davison's role with the team is a perfect mesh for his feelings on playing in San Jose.
"I love San Jose," said Davison. "It's a big city, but it has a small city feel. People here are friendly."
When Davison gets even the smallest amount of media attention, at least he get great attention. Wave Magazine recently used an action shot for their cover, which also features Cameron Diaz.
"I grabbed a bunch to send to my family and friends," laughed Davison. "When Ron Wilson told me about it, I thought he was kidding. I saw the last issue and Johnny Depp was on the cover."
Even the least recognized NHL players get their moments in the sun.
Some might think that the newer rules might make it tougher on an old school player who plays the body and has a lot of size. However, Davison is not without necessary defenseman skills.
"Even with the rule changes, with his ability to skate and pass, he fits us like a glove," said Wilson. "The game has slowed down to him. He makes plays whether it is the first pass out of the zone or a D-to-D pass."
Davison has played regularly with McLaren both last year and this season and the two are both very similar on and off the ice.
"He's had a steady personality since he came up here," said Wilson. "He's not flashy, he just gets the job done. He does the little things right. We say 'keep it simple stupid'. Do your own job before you move onto anything else. That is why we fit so well together."