The annual Sharks Foundation Fantasy Camp brings old friends to HP Pavilion every year and that was once again the case this past weekend. Among the past Sharks entertaining fans were Steve Shields, Murray Craven, Al Iafrate and others. One face however, harkened back to the inaugural Sharks season and that was the face of Jay More.
More wore the teal until 1996, but hadn’t been back to San Jose at least since his final NHL season more than a decade ago.
“Probably been 10-12 years, not since I played my last game here,” More said trying to recall his last San Jose visit.
After watching the contest Thursday night, More said there was a special feeling about returning and seeing a product he helped begin.
“It’s exciting,” More began. “I said to my wife when we sat down in our seats and saw the banners hanging that it was a good feeling to see that.”
When More initially saw HP Pavilion, there wasn’t even a place to hang future banners.
“I remember standing in this building and there was no roof on it and we were still playing in the Cow Palace,” More said. “The city of San Jose brought the whole team down one day and took us up to the top level. They were working on all the beams and they were telling us where the dressing rooms were going to be. It was nice to see.”
Having helped build the franchise from the inaugural campaign, to the record setting 71 loss season, to the greatest turnaround in NHL history in year three, More has a lot of hockey history in San Jose. He spent more time as a Shark than as a member of the four other teams he represented combined.
“San Jose, it’s home,” More noted. “You come back here and you see so many people. The organization is first class and right from day one it’s been run like this.”
Twenty years later, San Jose has lost the expansion tag that follows some markets and is simply known as a hockey city. More couldn’t say he saw that coming two decades ago.
“San Jose is on the map wherever you go, whether its Canada or up in the northeast,” More said. “It’s become a traditional (hockey market) and it’s looked up to by a lot of teams in the league.”
Traditional hockey markets develop players and Bay Area kids are dotted around the NHL and the Sharks even signed one of their own recently. That a Jr. Sharks product is playing in a market like Minnesota is a far cry from when More first worked with Bay Area youth.
“Yeah,” More chuckled upon hearing how well local players are performing now. “That first year or two you would see the kids come and skate and it was almost comical. I did coach youth hockey in Nashville about eight years after I stopped playing and we played a few teams from out here in California. The talent was tremendous.”
More still relishes that magical 1993-94 season and smiled when it was noted that Jamie Baker’s goal to top Detroit was still the most famous in franchise history.
“You can pull anything on YouTube and when you type in the Sharks, one of the first things that comes up is Jamie’s goal. It was fun to be part of that,” More recalled.
Living outside Nashville, hockey doesn’t dominate More’s life anymore as he’s adjusted to life as a small business owner.
“Life after hockey, it’s tough transition sometimes so I’ve done a few different things,” More said. “My son and I started a little coffee business, Wannago Coffee. We import coffee machines from Italy and put them in office buildings for the staff.”
As far as hockey is concerned, More is a Sharks fan and when he looked up a those rafters, one extra thought went through his mind.
“I’d like one more banner hanging them up there. It’s going to come, I think they’re going to win a championship,” More concluded.
NEXT GAME The Sharks will host Calgary Wednesday at 7 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at www.ticketmaster.com. The game will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.