Patrick Rissmiller has played as a winger for most of his career. He played center as a youth, but throughout college at Holy Cross and for most of his professional career, he was been on the left side. Then when Team Teal signed him to a free agent contract back in 2003, he took on the experiment of playing center.
“I played center in Cleveland (the Sharks AHL affiliate at the time),” said Rissmiller. “In college, I was a left wing. In the AHL, they tried to move me to center, but they moved me back.”
While that experiment failed for numerous reasons that don’t apply today, Rissmiller found some success at the position recently.
In Saturday night’s win against Nashville, Rissmiller was playing regular shifts at center for the first time since his AHL days.
“Maybe a shift or two,” said Rissmiller of playing center in the NHL before Saturday. “Pretty much zero.”
So how exactly did the Rissmiller end up in the middle against Nashville?
“The other day, (Sharks Assistant Coach) Tim Hunter asked me if I had played center,” said Rissmiller who simply answered “yes”.
Rissmiller acknowledges playing the middle requires a lot more attention.
“In Cleveland, it was a struggle defensively,” said Rissmiller. “I’m much more aware defensively now, so I’m not concerned about it. I wasn’t a defensive forward until I got here. I’ve learned a lot the last three years and am more defensively responsible.”
If Sunday’s practice was an indication, Rissmiller will be centering a line with Steve Bernier and Ryane Clowe
against the Flames.
“It will definitely be different,” said Rissmiller. “The last game I played about half of it (at center). I got into it.”
One area very foreign to most wingers is the faceoff circle. While most forwards take the occasional draw when their centerman is kicked out for the odd reason, wingers don’t stand in the middle of the circles often.
That did not prove to be a problem for Rissmiller Saturday night as he was perfect in the faceoff encounters.
“I was seven-for-seven, but they were all on the backhand,” said Rissmiller. “That is easier, but I’ll take it.”
Everyone starting something new should have things go as easy as Rissmiller did.
NOLAN AT 1,000
Former Sharks right wing Owen Nolan will play in his 1,000th NHL game for Calgary tonight against San Jose, the club who he played the most games for in his NHL career. Nolan has played for five franchises (Quebec/Colorado, San Jose, Toronto, Phoenix and Calgary).
The Sharks will visit Calgary tonight for a 6 p.m. contest that can be viewed on the NHL’s Center Ice Package and heard on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.