For the first time in 10 seasons, the Sharks have opened a campaign without the insights of Goaltending Coach Warren Strelow. The passing of the NHL’s first full-time goaltender coach during last season’s playoffs has left a hole in the goaltending world and a position that had to be filled for Team Teal.
Filling Strelow’s shoes is no small task as he played a critical role in developing Evgeni Nabokov, Vesa Toskala and Miikka Kiprusoff, basically serving up number one netminders for 10 percent of the NHL.
The Sharks must move on and they will do so in much the same manner they did in the past seasons when physical ailments limited Strelow. Both Sharks Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas and Scout Cap Raeder have stepped up their roles.
Thomas has served the Sharks as both an assistant coach and assistant general mangers during his 14-year-career, but at his heart, he is a former NHL netminder who played in 243 games over nine seasons with Montreal, Toronto and the New York Rangers. He was the winning netminder at the 1976 NHL All-Star game, not a bad accomplishment considering the small amount of defense played in the affair.
Raeder made his mark in net as an All-American netminder at New Hampshire before playing professionally with the Whalers in the WHA. He has been with the Sharks for 11 seasons, nine as a scout. One season was spent as an assistant coach, a job he also filled for two seasons with Boston and seven in Los Angeles.
“During his (Strelow) time away, we supplemented his work on the ice,” said Thomas. “He was able to still talk with players and watch video. He could watch the tape and tell us what he wanted us to work with them on.”
Thomas will be very hands on at the NHL level with Evgeni Nabokov and rookie Dimitri Patzold, with occasional visits to Worcester, and Raeder playing a stronger role in the Worcester Sharks development.
“Cap will be more active with the AHL,” said Thomas. “Last year he spent quite a bit of time with Warren in training camp and in Worcester. This season he took part in our development camp. With his close proximity to Worcester, he can be there a minimum two days a week.”
With Raeder taking care of Thomas Greiss
and Taylor Dakers, Thomas has been able to focus on the big club.
“It has allowed me to stay here,” said Thomas. “I can give Dimitri some extra time since it’s his first year here. He is seeing new things every day and it’s a learning process. ”
Not that Thomas works with just the younger players, but obviously Nabokov is very comfortable in his role.
“With Evgeni, it is just maintenance,” said Thomas. “He knows what he wants. If I see something, he wants me to let him know right away. We’ll use a drill, video or just a conversation.”
The on-ice items are important, but it is just as imperative for players to see what is working and what is not on the video, in addition to staying in top shape.
“Early in the year, we use video almost every day,” said Thomas. “I think with the butterfly style and getting bumped all the time, players have to have great flexibility and strength. They really do some unnatural things with their bodies.”
Even though he just celebrated his 60th birthday, Thomas still very much enjoys the hands on work in hockey.
“I enjoy working with the goalies and seeing their progress from mini-camps to the NHL,” said Thomas.
Thomas knows it is a combination of the prospects having talent and having the desire to change and learn that make draftees NHL starters.
“We’re blessed with a scouting staff that can identify talent for us to work with,” said Thomas.
Still, even with both Thomas and Raeder stepping up to handle the netminding duties, a talent such as Strelow is difficult to replace.
“His eye for every detail and his ability to get his points across in a positive way were unbelievable,” said Thomas. “He had a great ability to keep people on top of their game. He was a positive guy who believed in his athletes.”
And those in the Sharks organization and those playing for other clubs still believe in Strelow’s way.
For the month of October, the Sharks No. 1 goaltending prospect and 2006 German Olympian Thomas Greiss
is going Pink at the Rink to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For the remaining four games in October, Greiss will be wearing a specially designed Pink Sharks goalie mask to highlight the Sharks involvement.
|Worcester goaltender Thomas Greiss will wear a pink mask for the month of October to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month |
Greiss will be the first professional hockey goaltender to sport a pink mask for the month of October. This special mask, which is a mirror image of Greiss’ regular mask, is Pink with swimming sharks and has a Pink Ribbon on the front. The back of the mask dawns a Sharks Charities logo with Sharks Charities Chairwoman Mary C. Defeudis’ signature. At the end of October, the Pink mask will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Hope Lodge via Sharks Charities. Hope Lodge is a free, temporary housing facility for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment in eastern Massachusetts, and their families.
“The Worcester Sharks wanted to do something different,” said Sharks President and CEO Michael Lehr. “Thomas was very gracious to agree to wear the mask and by him doing so, the Sharks will drum up awareness for the month and help support the Hope Lodge.”
Ron Wilson appears set to tweak his lines a bit the following options skating in Vancouver Monday morning.Ryane Clowe
-Joe Thornton-Torrey Mitchell
Milan Michalek-Patrick Marleau-Steve Bernier
Mike Grier-Joe Pavelski-Jonathan Cheechoo
Patrick Rissmiller-Marcel Goc-Jeremy Roenick
That would leave Curtis Brown out as a coach’s decision and Douglass Murray is back in the lineup on the blueline in place of Rob Davison.
Former Sharks majority owner, and current minority partner, George Gund is expected to watch his start-up company play tonight from GM Place.
Sharks Television Color Commentator Drew Remenda’s family has made the trek to Vancouver to visit.
The Sharks will play Vancouver tonight at 7 p.m. on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.