There are several players making their HP Pavilion regular season debut in Thursday’s home opener. They include Dany Heatley, Manny Malhotra, Benn Ferriero, Frazer McLaren, Jed Ortmeyer, Scott Nichol, Kent Huskins and Jason Demers. That is eight of the 20 players who will dress tonight.
For the veterans, they know how loud the building is and are excited to step on the ice and have the crowd support behind them.
“I played here a few times and am really looking forward to tonight,” said Heatley.
For center Manny Malhotra, he will be facing his club from last season in addition to debuting before the home fans.
“It’s a new team, new responsibilities and new friends,” said Malhotra who did catch up for dinner with a previous teammate last night.
For Kent Huskins, it will end an unofficial streak of most days spent on the Sharks roster while not having played as a Shark at HP Pavilion. As most know recall, Huskins was acquired last spring from Anaheim, but was unable to play due to a foot injury.
“I’m excited to get going out there,” said Huskins. “I watched last and having played on the other side, it’s a great atmosphere. It’s felt like an eternity last year. Every day was hard. I feel the desire to get out there and battle today.”
Scott echoed the sentiments of the group.
“I think the atmosphere at home is great,” said Nichol. “When you come in with the visiting team it is intimidating. History has shown this team plays very well at home. We’re all excited to play in front of the fans and show what we can do.”
Demers, McLaren and Ferriero are rookies who don’t even have the insight of the HP Pavilion crowd from the visiting perspective.
“I’ve been waiting for this one,” said Demers about skating out for a home game. “I heard at the start of the season the fans are crazy like the playoffs. Everyone says it is wild and I don’t think it will be anything less than that. There will be a few thousand more (fans than the preseason games) and a few decibels higher.”
“It will be nice to be in front of the home crowd and a packed house,” said McLaren.
“In the preseason there were 16,000 people here,” said McLaren. “I can only imagine what it will be like on opening night.”
It’s not just the first timers who are amped as Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan acknowledged a special feeling for home openers.
“It is more exciting than normal,” said McLellan. “The last time we played here we were behind in a playoff game and we never got to play here again.”
COLUMBUS IS PERFECT McLellan says the Blue Jackets are a perfectly time opponent because of a unique challenge they present.
“I’m glad we’re playing Columbus tonight,” said McLellan. “As much as any team in the league, they will challenge your work ethic. If we don’t match that it will be hard to win.”
LINEUP CHANGE The Sharks have called up Jamie McGinn for the contest.
“Jamie has been recalled and we’ll fit him in tonight,” said McLellan. “What line he plays on will be determined by who they are playing.”
SNEAK PEAK Media attending the morning skate were privileged to a sneak preview of the three new banners hanging at HP Pavilion. All are from last year’s regular season and they include the Pacific Division championship, Western Conference championship and Presidents’ Trophy banners.
SUSPENDED Brad Staubitz has been suspended for one game, without pay, for making excessive physical contact on an icing play, in NHL game #32 against the Los Angeles Kings, October 6, the National Hockey League announced today.
Staubitz was assessed a minor penalty for charging Kings player Davis Drewiske on the play, which occurred at 13:24 of the second period.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Staubitz will forfeit $2,590.67. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Staubitz will miss tonight’s game against Columbus. He will be eligible to return Oct. 10 against Minnesota.
NEXT GAME The 7:30 p.m. home opener tonight will be carried on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com and expanded coverage will be available on the pre and postgame shows on both TV and radio.