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Michalek: A Young Veteran

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
In addition to the expected opening night top line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo, other trios appear to be taking shape as game one approaches.

For Tuesday’s practice, groupings included Patrick Rissmiller-Marcel Goc-Mike Grier, Ryane Clowe-Joe Pavelski-Steve Bernier, and Milan Michalek-Torrey Mitchell-Devin Setoguchi. Curtis Brown and Jeremy Roenick skated as a line as well.

That makes Michalek the senior statesman on his line at 22-years-old. Not too much older in terms of age as Michalek is just two months older than Mitchell and two years older than Setoguchi.

However, in terms experience, Michalek is beginning his fourth campaign in teal, while Mitchell and Setoguchi will be playing in their first NHL contest on Thursday. There is a trust factor that goes with handling the rookies.

“It’s nice,” said Michalek. “They trust me to do a good job.”

Michalek recalls his first game as a Sharks player, which happened to be in Edmonton, when he scored his first NHL goal and fondly looks back on the evening.

“We were just talking about it,” said Michalek. “I skated with Ricci and Scott Thornton. They were great guys and helped me a lot. I didn’t talk much.”

For talking, he had Ricci and Thornton, but no specific advice stuck through the years.

“I don’t remember anything, but maybe I didn’t understand,” joked Michalek. “I just said yes a lot.”

Now his English is much improved (although it was better than he gives himself credit for back then) and he plans to put his leadership skills to the test.

“I’m going to try and help a lot,” said Michalek. “If they have any questions, I’ll tell them what to do.”

If the trio simply skates, that may be good enough for the short term.

“That is one of the faster lines we’ve ever put together here,” said Wilson. “They haven’t played together in the preseason, so practices now are really important. Defensively, they seem to be on top (of their game).”

While Brown and Roenick may not be in the lineup for game one, that could easily change moving forward.

“Jeremy and Curtis could be on the outside looking in, but we know they’ll be ready,” said Wilson.

While the forward lines may be close to locked in for opening night, who joins Craig Rivet, Matt Carle, Kyle McLaren, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Christian Ehrhoff in the top six is still up for debate.

“The sixth defenseman will probably be decided at game time,” said Ron Wilson.

In net, Wilson has not determined at what point Patzold will start his first NHL game as Nabokov could play in early back-to-backs.

“He shouldn’t be tired,” said Wilson. “I don’t look beyond the first two games. Right now, Nabby will play unless I see him getting tired. The back-to-backs early in the season shouldn’t be a problem.”

It may be five hours from Tabor, Alberta, but Thursday’s game in Edmonton will almost be a home game for Setoguchi in his first Sharks contest.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Setoguchi. “My dad’s got a lot of people coming.”

Setoguchi may wait until another appearance to start picking up tickets, after all, he still hasn’t earned his first NHL paycheck.

“Once I get a couple of paychecks, I’ll buy some,” said Setoguchi.

The Sharks reached the 23-man roster limit by assigning Alexei Semenov to the injured reserved list (stiff back). He joins Brad Norton (back) and Tomas Plihal (shoulder) in beginning the season on the IR. Sandis Ozolinsh is still practicing with the team as a try out and is not eligible to sign a contract until October 10.

This morning the Sharks all attended a season kickoff breakfast hosted by the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Profits from the Sharks players’ appearance at Amici’s downtown San Jose location on Monday resulted in a $10,000 donation to The Sharks Foundation from the Sharks corporate partner.

The WHL also nominated Tyson Sexsmith of the Vancouver Giants for the ADT CHL Goaltender of the Week award. Sexsmith was a 2007 draft pick of the Sharks.

The Sharks will play Edmonton on Thursday at 6 p.m. with the game available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and
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