Mike Ricci was supposed to be honored on opening night, but the fans showed they didn’t mind waiting for Game 2 with a long standing ovation for the franchise’s most popular player ever. Ricci dropped a ceremonious first puck, and just as he has since he first heard the chant of Reech, the fan favorite appreciated the fan’s reception.
“It was good,” said Ricci. “It’s always good to hear the fans cheer for you.”
Ricci notes that his bond with the fans was a result of years of service and appreciation for each other.
“I think over time, we started to trust each other,” said Ricci. “It’s like a friendship. I think I’ve met most of these fans. They like me and I like them.”
The cheering reminded Ricci that he does miss the rush of the NHL.
“I miss going out and competing, hanging out with the guys and the adrenaline rush,” said Ricci. “I miss getting hit, bleeding and the smell.”
What Ricci doesn’t miss are the medical factors that forced him out of hockey.
“There was the back operation and then it went up my spine,” said Ricci. “It’s easy if you’re single with no wife or kids, but with a wife and kids, you have to consider risking another major surgery.”
That being stated, Ricci is happy with his current role, helping the Sharks in the front office, working with young players and participating in community events.
“It’s going good,” said Ricci. “I get to hang out with the guys and help out the coaches and management. Every time I come to the rink they find something else for us to do. I like the challenge.”
TOUGH BREAKS DO IN SHARKS
San Jose’s night against Detroit started out on the right foot when they took a 1-0 lead into the intermission. After two periods, the game was tied at two, but the Sharks surrendered two third period tallies in falling 4-2.
Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson was not pleased with the overall effort on the season.
“It’s sporadic,” said Wilson. “Good one night, awful the next. We should be able to build off the Vancouver win. We’ve got to show more poise. We didn’t respond well when they scored. All it took was two bad turnovers and we collapsed for 10 minutes.
“The players have to play and be mentally ready,” said Wilson. “We seem content to read the press clippings.”
The players agree that a better effort needs to be consistently presented.
“We have to find ways to play a full 60-minute game,” said McLaren. “We have to find ways to play shift to shift, period to period. The power play and the five-on-five play have got to be better.”
Most in the room afterwards felt playing the club that eliminated the Sharks from the 2007 postseason would have kept the team fired all night.
“They beat us (last year) and that should be enough motivation,” said McLaren.
“I think they got us back on our heals in the second,” said Mike Grier.
San Jose also wants to pick up the pace with just one more chance to play infront of their home crowd.
“This is a tough loss,” said McLaren. “We only have one other home game before the end of the month.”
It was only a one-goal deficit when a slashing penalty to Grier provided Detroit with a five-on-three advantage that they capitalized on.
“We still had a chance to win and they got the five-on-three,” said Grier. “The refs have a tough job, but from my point of view, that was a stick-on-stick check.”
The multi-goal deficit took the steam out of San Jose.
“They are a good team and tough to come back on when they’re up two goals,” said Grier.
Marcel Goc had an opportunity to clear the puck on a Detroit second period goal, but the play did not go as planned.
“I saw him coming and I just wanted to flip it high out of the zone,” said Goc. “It wasn’t high enough.”
While he had his man completely covered in the third period, Goc was the player on the spot when Matt Ellis’ blind backhander was somehow redirected and crossed the goal line.
“I didn’t even see how the third one went in,” said Goc.
Goc was interviewed postgame by a German magazine touring California to interview German NHLers.
PARENT VISITTorrey Mitchell
’s parents made the trip from Quebec to watch their son play in San Jose for the first time.
1ST AND 2ND
With a first period tally, Grier scored his first goal and point of the 2007-2008 season. Jonathan Cheechoo scored a goal in his second consecutive game and has three points (2-1=3) in his last two games.
The Sharks will square off with Nashville Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion. Limited tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.