While the eight Sharks Olympians have been battling in Vancouver, the rest of the squad has enjoyed some rest and relaxation.
Recent acquisition Niclas Wallin and his family spent the Olympic Break in Costa Rica.
“I got a chance to see the family,” said Wallin following his first practice at Sharks Ice at San Jose. “I hadn’t seen them in three weeks so we went to Costa Rica.”
Following their eight-day trip, the Swedish blueliner and his family returned to their home in Raleigh, North Carolina and began preparing for Wallin’s departure for San Jose. Since being acquired by the Sharks on February 7, Wallin has been on a whirlwind travelling tour.
“After the game against the Sabres, I had a stay over in Buffalo and then flew right from Buffalo to Costa Rica and met my family there,” explained Wallin. “We got home Monday night, packed up and then I got on a flight at 6 o’clock this morning for San Jose.”
Seventeen days after he was acquired, Wallin finally made his way to San Jose.
Wallin wasn’t the only Sharks player who traded skates for surf. Sharks captain Rob Blake and his family headed to Hawaii where they spent five days at the Grand Wailea Hotel in Maui.
“It was like an NHLPA meeting --- anyone from the west coast was out there,” joked Blake. “My family and I enjoyed a lot of the beach and the water.”
So now the tide turns back to hockey for the 11 players that skated in the first Sharks practice since San Jose’s 3-1 loss to Buffalo on Feb 13.
Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan had forwards Devin Setoguchi, Ryane Clowe
, Manny Malhotra, Jed Ortmeyer, Scott Nichol, Torrey Mitchell
and Brad Staubitz on the ice. Joining them were defensemen Wallin, Blake, Jay Leach and Kent Huskins.
With Evgeni Nabokov in Vancouver and Thomas Greiss
en route to San Jose, the Sharks called on former Sharks goaltender Steve Shields. The 36-year-old was the lone netminder during Wednesday’s practice.
“Three and a half months ago we knew we’d need a goalie for today,” said McLellan about Shields’ involvement with the practice. “This is a way to bring a former Shark back and put him on the ice. It’s as simple as that. We needed a goalie and he was prepared to come and do it.”
With Germany’s loss to Canada on Tuesday, Greiss was on a return-flight to San Jose on Wednesday afternoon. However, McLellan said he will not have his goaltender jump right into their “mini training camp” and will instead give him some much needed rest.
“Like the rest of them, it’s important that he gets a little bit of time off,” explained McLellan. “In my opinion he’s been on a 26-day road trip and he needs some time to recover and some time to get everything in order.”
In an effort to limit distractions and create a seamless transition for players returning from the Olympics, Sharks practices at Sharks Ice at San Jose will be closed to the general public through Sunday, Feb 28. Sharks practices will re-open to the public starting Monday, March 1.