Dany Heatley’s arrival in San Jose made the biggest splash with the media, but also skating with the Sharks for the first time was Manny Malhotra. Malhotra enjoyed his morning on the HP Pavilion ice as a member of the home team as he was an unrestricted free agent with training camp began.
“Two days ago we started talking a lot more and we pulled the trigger,” Malhotra said.
Malhotra acknowledged other teams may have been further along recruiting him at one point, but San Jose was the type of club he wanted to go to.
“It began in the summer when my wife and I talked about going to a winning team,” Malhotra said.
Executive Vice President Doug Wilson and Head Coach Todd McLellan were both instrumental in the recruitment.
“My discussions with Doug and Todd were solid,” Malhotra said. “(I liked) the structure an experience of the team.”
As for his role, Malhotra isn’t trying to compare himself with the goal scoring skills of the other player who skated Friday morning.
“It’s pretty clear,” Malhotra said. “I’m here to play solid D and play a checking role.”
Canadian hockey fans know Malhotra, but Canadian and NBA fans know his brother-in-law: former Santa Clara University standout and NBA All-Star Steve Nash, who currently plays guard for the Phoenix Suns.BREAKING IN
Heatley skated on a line with Joe Thornton
and Devin Setoguchi during his first practice. The trio will not play Friday night, but McLellan is glad to have Heatley skating in San Jose.
“It’s exciting for him, for his team and for the coaches,” McLellan said.
McLellan was asked about the quandary posed by him wanting Thornton to shoot more, but that the game’s best passer now has one of the game’s best snipers at his side.
“We’ve been trying to get Joe to shoot the puck more and maybe we have someone to go shoot it for him,” McLellan said with a smile. “We’ll still be on him to get his shot total up.”
“I was hoping to shoot more, but we just got (number) 15 on my line,” Thornton said.
Thornton’s also ready to play with Heatley and excited to have him as a teammate.
“I’ve probably known him for 10 years,” he said. “He’s just a really good guy.”
The two have been teammates countless times internationally, but rarely skated alongside each other.
“I’ve probably played a total of six shifts with him through the years,” Thornton said.
“I’m excited to have both of them,” McLellan said. “They are both big and strong and can skate.”
As for when Heatley will break into the preseason lineup, the player will leave that to the decision makers.
“I feel great right now, but it’s up to Todd,” Heatley said. WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA
During the post-morning skate presser, the media pointed out that Heatley will be out of the glare that follows hockey players in Canada, but a player of Heatley’s caliber will be recognized no matter what market he is in.
“He got recognized at dinner last night,” Thornton said with a smile.
Seriously, Thornton did say Heatley will make one major change that he also experienced following his trade from Boston four years ago.
“I got rid of my winter coat,” Thornton said. “I’m sure he will too.”
FIRST ONE UNDER THE BIG TOP
Unlike many of the junior prospects, college players like defenseman Nick Petrecki
were never able to participate in training camp or a preseason game. Now he gets his chance to play at HP Pavilion.
“The college guys don’t get the experience,” Petrecki said. “Except for the regionals or the Frozen Four, this is the biggest venue we get to play in.”
Petrecki plays with an edge Sharks fans will like. While acknowledging his emotions about playing in front of the HP Pavilion faithful, he he also notes he will try to stay within his abilities.
“I’m just sticking to my game,” he said. “They say to stick with what got you here. It is definitely exciting. I’m hoping to make the team and am preparing physically and mentally.”FRIDAY’S GAME PLAN
McLellan will use Friday night as another opportunity to accomplish two goals.
“It will be a mix of some veterans and younger players,” McLellan said. “The veterans need to play some games and the younger players need to show what they can do.
The forwards will be led by a line of Patrick Marleau
, Joe Pavelski
and Ryane Clowe
, a trio that’s a likely combination to start the regular season.TONIGHT’S OPPONENT
The Sharks play hosts to Vancouver this evening in the first home preseason game. Oddly enough, the Sharks sent defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Canucks before training camp began. In fact, Ehrhoff is scheduled to be in the lineup tonight.NEXT GAME
San Jose plays hosts to Vancouver tonight at 7:30 at HP Pavilion and tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com or at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.