With the staggering amount of injuries the Sharks have endured this season, the franchise has leaned heavily on first-year NHLers to fill the void of experienced veterans. And with Patrick Marleau
staying in San Jose on Tuesday to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, the rookies will have the opportunity to fill a larger leadership role when the Sharks take on the Blackhawks in Chicago on Wednesday.
The revolving door from Worcester has proved to be a successful endeavor for both the young players arriving in San Jose and for the Sharks big club, which sits atop the NHL standings. The younger players gaining new opportunities includes Brad Staubitz, Jamie McGinn, Tom Cavanagh and Ryan Vesce, who are all currently with the Sharks, as well as Derek Joslin, Riley Armstrong and Lukas Kaspar.
Staubitz became an instant fan favorite when he fought Jordin Tootoo on March 19, and Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan has noted the defenseman turned forward is quickly proving to be an NHL regular.
“It’s great just being a part of a team, let alone a first place team,” said Staubitz. “This is my first year in the NHL so that’s exciting. But joining this team is a great bonus. I just try to contribute and fill any void that I can. Any opportunity, I just try and take advantage of it.”
According to Sharks center Jeremy Roenick, Staubitz has already earned a reputation around the NHL.
“Staubitz is a cult hero around here now,” explained Roenick. “He’s pretty much established himself around the League as a force to be reckoned with.”
McGinn is another rookie reaping the benefits of extra playing time. The 20-year-old left wing made his NHL debut on October 28 against Pittsburgh and has worked his way onto the Sharks first line for stints. Not bad for a guy whose goal at the beginning of the season was just to play in ten games in the NHL.
Now McGinn finds himself alongside the NHL’s most prolific passer, Joe Thornton
and Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
. That’s like winning the Canadian lottery.
“He (Thornton) makes it so fun out there,” said McGinn following Tuesday’s early morning practice. “I really look up to him and he’s always a positive guy.”
When Thornton talks about his new linemate, he emphasizes McGinn’s level of confidence. The more they play together, the more ease McGinn has in his game. And there’s no doubt in Thornton’s mind that the 6-foot, 185 pound native of Fergus, Ontario has what it takes to stay in San Jose.
“The way he’s playing and the way he keeps getting better, there’s going to be lots of room for him to play on this team,” said Thornton.
JR TO RETURN AGAINST CHICAGO
Although the Sharks will be without Marleau when they take on the Blackhawks on Wednesday, they will most likely have Jeremy Roenick back in the lineup.
Roenick, who has been sidelined since February 28 with a shoulder injury, practiced on Tuesday morning alongside Travis Moen and Ryan Vesce in a potential third line setup. He’ll bring spunk, energy and a right-handed shot that McLellan is excited to have back on the ice.
“He’s going to be excited about playing,” said McLellan. “He’s going to be able to help with the power play. He’s got some offensive instincts and a right handed shot. Obviously with a couple of our right handed wingers not available, that’s important.”
The Sharks have seven players – Claude Lemieux, Rob Blake, Torrey Mitchell
, Mike Grier, Ryane Clowe
, Tomas Plihal, Kent Huskins and Marcel Goc – currently out of the lineup.
PATTY’S TO BE A NEW DADDY
McLellan was very clear on his stance about Marleau staying home with his wife and forgoing the Sharks road trip to Chicago when questioned about the topic by reporters on Tuesday.
“That comes before anything,” he explained. “That would be first in my house and all the players’ houses. That should be first.”
Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson shared the same sentiment.
“He did not leave today with the team as he will be with his wife for the birth of their second child,” he explained.
LEARN TO SKATE
Sharks Ice is introducing young kids to the basics of ice skating and the game of ice hockey in a FREE 3 day series March 27, 28, 29, 2009. There is no skating experience necessary to participate in this program and it is NOT for skaters who have taken a class before or been enrolled in any program at Sharks Ice previously.
There is a maximum of 30 skaters and 30 hockey players - registrations are on a first come first serve basis. Hockey class members will receive full equipment at no charge for the series. Skating class members will receive free skate rental for the series.
Registration is only available online at www.sharksiceatsanjose.com
depending on your preferred location.
San Jose Series Dates & Times:
Friday March 27 - 5:45-6:45pm
Saturday March 28 – 1:15-2:15pm
Sunday March 29 - 1:15-2:15pm
Fremont Series Dates & Times:
Friday March 27 – 7:15-8:15pm
Saturday March 28 – 4:00-5:00pm
Sunday March 29 – 11:00am-12:00pm
Please contact Marjorie Taylor with any questions about this program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following Tuesday’s 8:30 a.m. practice, the Sharks left for a two-game road trip in Chicago and Nashville. With back-to-back contests this week, the team will face the Blackhawks on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. (Pacific) and the Predators on Thursday at 5:00 p.m.