Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson talked at the trade deadline of getting new additions in as soon as possible, allowing them to easily integrate with the system. That has paid dividends as Kyle Wellwood, Ben Eager and Ian White have all benefited from the extra tenure in teal.
“It doesn’t give you much time before the playoffs if you are acquired right at the deadline,” Eager said. “It’s been nice for me coming here a few weeks earlier. It’s given me a few more weeks to adjust.”
Anyone who has changed locations for a career knows the difficulties of a new business culture and finding a new home. For NHLers they have to ensure they’re hockey style gel with their new teammates.
“I think all the forwards have good instincts and good skills,” Wellwood said of how easy his move has been. “They’ve been winning and playing hard for years now. It’s just coming in and trying to bring the same thing they bring.”
Teammate wise, the trio’s transition has been seamless and an early camaraderie was built.
“The guys have been great,” Eager said. “There is a bunch of character in here and there are a lot of great hockey players. It always helps when you’re wining games. It more fun to come to the rink when you’re winning and since I’ve been here we’ve been winning. That’s been nice.”
“It’s a pretty easy transition,” White said. “Some of the things are little different than I’m used to. We have such a highly skilled group of guys, they are so easy to work with. They are great teachers who help you catch on easier than other situations I’ve been in.”
Eager wasn’t about to give Wellwood and himself all the credit, although the timing of the winning and their arrival is not a 100 percent coincidence.
“Me and Welly?” laughed Eager. “I don’t think so.”
Wellwood and Eager had significant time playing out west with Vancouver and Chicago respectively, but most of White’s career had been in the Eastern Conference, barring about half a season’s worth of games in Calgary.
“The travel is a lot different than I’m used to, it’s a lot further than what I’m used to out east, that’s for sure,” White said.
Off the ice, there are always headaches to deal with, whether it finding a home, a school or a day care provider.
“We’re lucky to have pretty good homestand where I can get to know the lay of the land,” White said. “I’ve got my family here, we’ve got an apartment now. We’re as much settled as I think we’re going to be this year.”
Nothing will be as settled off the ice as if they players had been in the Bay Area for five years, so there will be little things to deal with that many of take for granted.
“No TV (hooked up), but we’re having a baby, so we have a lot of books and we’re getting ready for it,” Wellwood said.
Not having the television up and running yet is more than a leg up on Eager.
“He’s a couple of steps ahead of me because I’m still in the hotel,” Eager noted. “I’ll probably make a move out of there eventually, but it’s nice having your bed made every morning and room service right there for you.”
Wellwood may have had the biggest transition of all as he had to readjust to the North American time zone and the smaller ice surface.
“It’s nice now. Coming from Russia, it is an 11 hour time change,” Wellwood said. “It was probably five weeks (fully back on North American time). Even at the month mark in early February, I still had fatigue every time I was getting up. Now it’s better.”
The most difficult change of anyone came for Wellwood who began the year in Russia and had his move complicated by the drastic time zone difference and then having to become reacquainted with the smaller North American sized ice surfaces.
“Things are quicker and you have less time, particularly playing the wing,” Wellwood noted. “You’ve got to get used to the defensemen being on you constantly. It’s a different style game, but I’ve played it all my career, to so it wasn’t too difficult.”
White, Wellwood and Eager are as settled as they are going to be and are ready to finish up the regular season in the same manner as things have been going lately.
“I’m finally feeling like I’m in the middle of the season. I’m settled and ready to finish it off and have the real push for the playoffs,” Wellwood said.
NASHVILLE Tuesday’s game with Nashville is a matchup with one of the NHL’s top defensive units.
“You have to be aware of where you are playing offensively that you don’t get three players below the puck because that triggers some open ice for guys like Weber, Suter and (others),” Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “They all shoot the puck very well and they are not afraid to be active in the offensive zone.”
Nashville has given the Sharks problems in their three matchups this season and netminder Pekka Rinne is a big factor in the equation.
“.968 save percentage against the Sharks,” McLellan pointed out. “I think he’s played extremely well. I thought we played extremely well against him in Nashville the last time we were there and it took almost 65 minutes.”
NEXT GAME Tickets for the Nashville contest can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be aired on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.