On Friday, the Sharks were back in San Jose and those that didn’t need attention from the training staff had the day off. Like most National Hockey League clubs, there have been the usual injuries that occur, but on the ice the Sharks have been able to maintain their NHL-best record by dropping in any number of players when a regular is out of action.
Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Pavelski
just returned to the rotation after missing time with various ailments. Jeremy Roenick recently went on Injured Reserve. And let’s not forget that Torrey Mitchell
hasn’t played in a regular season game. None of this seems to faze the Sharks and that’s very important for a club looking at more than just regular season success.
“We’ve got a lot of players that make the most of their opportunities,” veteran blueliner Brad Lukowich said. “Guys get hurt in hockey and on this team we don’t look for excuses. We’re accountable.”
Worcester Sharks Head Coach Roy Sommer works every day with the potential callups and there’s a reason the players can be immediately placed on the major league roster. The list of successful callups includes Jamie McGinn, Lukas Kaspar, Tom Cavanagh, Brad Staubitz and Riley Armstrong. They’ve filled in for 35 combined games this season.
Sommer’s success comes from running San Jose’s system with his American Hockey League club.
“I think it’s been great,” Sommer said. “We do the same thing and we have the same identity here. (Head Coach) Todd’s (McLellan) ideas have been great.”
In San Jose, Team Teal is near or at the top of the NHL in goals and goals against. In Worcester, they’re having similar success in shooting the puck.
“We’re first in shots for and first in shots against as of last week,” Sommer said. “The system creates a lot more scoring chances and puck possession. We don’t spend as much time in our own end.”
The adjustment to McLellan’s system has taken place in California and Massachusetts – to rave reviews.
“It took an adjustment period,” Sommer said. “The guys love it. When they get the puck, they know where they are supposed to go and when it’s turned over, they know to chase it. Now they just play and know what they are supposed to do. All the guys that go up are ready to play in the system and they know what to do the first game.”
Having the younger players called up is an added bonus to a veteran dressing room.
“These guys come in and they’re so excited to be here,” Lukowich said. “Guys like Patty (Marleau) and Joe (Thornton) are leaders and they go out of their way to make them feel welcome.”
Lukowich is familiar with having the same systems being run at the NHL and AHL levels. He experienced this when he played for the Dallas Stars.
“We had (former Dallas and now Columbus Head Coach Ken) Hitchcock in Kalamazoo and when I was called up to Dallas, I was put right in the game,” Lukowich said.
While there wasn’t much time to reminisce with Hitchcock when the Sharks were in Columbus, Lukowich remembers the coach who helped him prepare and play in the NHL.
“He’s a quiet guy,” Lukowich said. “He’s always checking out history museums and if you catch a couple of minutes with him, he has really neat things to talk about.”
MURPH & MACKIE
KNBR morning show hosts Murph and Mac handed out their annual Murph & Mackie Awards on Thursday morning and they selected the Sharks as the Bay Area’s top club. Since the Sharks were on the ice at a morning skate in Columbus at the time of the presentation, Devin Setoguchi called in ahead of time with an acceptance speech.
The Sharks will resume action Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Rangers and the contest will be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.