Center Joe Pavelski
was quietly rewarded on the recent road trip when he entered the Sharks locker room in preparation for a game.
With right wing and alternate captain Mike Grier out because of a knee injury, Head Coach Todd McLellan originally named Rob Blake as alternate captain. However, when Blake was injured at Vancouver on March 7, McLellan ordered the equipment staff put the “A” on Pavelski’s sweater.
Grier will take his “A” back when he returns. However, no matter how temporary his position, Pavelski got a sign of recognition and respect from his head coach.
“I firmly believe Joe Pavelski
is part of the leadership corps here,” McLellan said. “It’s the way he carries himself and his attention to detail. I believe he’s a winner.”
McLellan isn’t the only one who believes Pavelski has leadership in his blood.
“I said the day I met him that he’s a future captain of a team,” veteran center Jeremy Roenick said. “He’s not the fastest or most talented, but he’s so smart.”
Pavelski centers San Jose’s No. 2 line with Milan Michalek and Ryane Clowe
. This trio doesn’t get the attention like the No. 1 line of Patrick Marleau
, Joe Thornton
and Devin Setoguchi, but they’re every bit as consistent. Many clubs have first line scoring, but the Sharks consistent effort from the second line has them among the NHL’s best.
“Joe’s in the middle of a line with Clowe and Milan and they’ve done a really good job,” McLellan said. “If there has been a constant since Day One, it’s that line.”
Pavelski may not be the most vocal player in the room, but that does not mean his timid. In fact, he’s willing to speak when others aren’t.
“Joe asks questions,” McLellan said. “He’ll never be unprepared. If he’s unsure, he’ll ask a question. In a group, some people are not comfortable asking questions. Sometimes I think he knows the answer, but he’s clarifying it for everyone else.”
The best parts of Pavelski are his on ice actions.
“He carries himself well with his actions on the ice,” McLellan said. “He blocks shots and does the things winners do.”
Pavelski says he learned leadership skills at every stop in his hockey career.
“We had really good leadership at Wisconsin when I was there,” Pavelski said. “I got to see how other guys handled it.”
The potential 2010 U.S. Olympian said wearing the “A” won’t change his style.
“One thing I like to bring to my game is a consistent effort,” Pavelski said.
A DAY OF REST
The Sharks skating at Sharks Ice at San Jose on Friday was primarily limited to those on the injured list.
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was one of those players and he’s extremely close to returning. Whether he starts or not, it’s a good sign that Nabokov will at least be the backup.
“It felt good,” Nabokov said about his practice session. “Health wise, it’s 100 percent.”
Nabokov and defenseman Rob Blake could return to action on Saturday against the Kings.
Forward Tomas Plihal’s injury will have him out for more than a day-to-day scenario.
“He’ll (return) down the road a little bit,” said McLellan, noting the same could be said for Roenick and forward Claude Lemieux.
Another player who’s not quite ready, but is skating with his teammates now is center Torrey Mitchell
, who’s been out all season with a broken leg.
“It’s going really well,” Mitchell said of his improving physical condition. “We had a really good skate today. I hope to get in a really hard skate next week. I’m chomping at the bit.”
Mitchell noted that he was still planning to play before the postseason begins.
HAVE SOME FAITH
The Sharks are clearly not playing their best hockey, but McLellan isn’t too worried, noting that when the Sharks pull themselves out of the funk, they could be even better.
“We’ve got to work on a couple of things and (when we do), we’ll come out a better team,” McLellan said. “Once we come out of it, we’ll be better for it. I wouldn’t have believed it until last year when (Detroit) went something like 1-8-1. It was not up to our standard and when all was said and done, we were better than before.”
LUCK OF THE IRISH
On Saturday night, the Sharks Foundation will auction off the second half of Sharks practice jerseys to benefit the charity. The jerseys were worn at a recent morning skate. The numbers on the back have a clover and are signed by each Sharks player.
San Jose will play hosts to Los Angeles on Saturday at 7 p.m. and the game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at ticketmaster.com.