When the San Jose Sharks practice sessions conclude, it is far from the end of the competition inside the lockerroom.
Once the players leave the ice, they enter a lockerroom where a ping-pong table sits right in the middle of the quarters. It is there for entertainment, but games that can start of a little fun can turn a little serious as the players simply can’t control there intensity, no matter what the sport. sjsharks.com turned to elder statesman Jeremy Roenick, a strong ping-pong player, for his top five title contenders within the room.
“I’d have to go with Boyle, Murray, Pavelski, Goc and myself,” said Roenick, who noted he might be leaving someone off.
Murray was appreciative of the thoughts, but said he was a bit out of practice.
“He is probably being a little generous,” said Murray. “I played a lot better early in the season, but I’m not playing as much right now.”
The number one ranked player according to Roenick was quick to give up hit coronation rights to someone completely out of J.R.’s top five.
“Nabby is probably one or two,” said Boyle. “On Murray, I’m going to have to disagree. Nabby might be the best, but he doesn’t play enough.”
“Nabby’s pretty good,” added Joe Pavelski
. “Sometimes he controls it for a day.”
As for sleepers in the table tennis extravaganza?
“Plihal might be underrated,” said Murray.
Roenick said each player has his own style and that some players simply match up better with others.
“Murray is tough to beat with the way he spins the ball,” said Roenick. “Right now Danny has my number and I don’t like it.”
There are serious bragging rights on the line every day at Sharks Ice.
“Nobody wants to lose to another guy on the team,” said Roenick.
“It’s like anything else, when the competition is going, you want to win,” said Marleau who simply enjoys the sport as spectator. “Even things like Yahtzee, we want to win.”
Once a win happens, the table is under control of the master.
“If you win you want to keep winning,” said Pavelski. “Then you are warmed up and you can catch everybody cold.”
The first ping-pong table in a Sharks lockerroom was brought in during the brief tenure of Al Sims who saw the concept in Anaheim. Then it was banished only to be returned to Sharks Ice in recent years. Whether the alternative way to get the competitive juices going was part of a player's past depends where they played.
“We had one in college and junior,” said Pavelski. “I grew up with a pool table and we would throw the ping-pong table on top.”
“We had one in Florida, but I hadn’t played since,” said Boyle.
Not everyone stands in line for their shot at the champ.
“I’d rather work out in the gym,” said Marc-Edouard Vlasic
The debate of who the true champion is up for as much debate as college football under the BCS.
BACK ON THE ICE
Jonathan Cheechoo was back on the ice Monday and is getting closer to returning to action.
“It’s coming along,” said Cheechoo. “It’s the first time out there and we’ll see how it reacts.”
“I thought he worked hard,” said Todd McLellan.
Cheechoo skated on Pavelski’s line as Ryane Clowe
was given a day off.
“It was more maintenance for his body than anything else,” said McLellan of Clowe. “You take advantage of it when you can get healthy.”
Sharks forward Tom Cavanagh grew up a Bruins fan and watching Joe Thornton
on television, so it is an extra special treat to be sharing a lockerroom with the NHL’s best passer.
”I grew up a fan of the Bruins and used to watch Joe all the time,” said Cavanagh.
The Sharks will host Anaheim on Thursday night and the game will be on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at www.ticketmaster.com or at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.