A nice four-day break between games was just what the doctor ordered for the San Jose Sharks. Coach Ron Wilson used the time for a couple of strong practices, a day off and a nice game of… dodgeball. Yes, dodgeball.
“It was something different to have some fun,” said Wilson.
And the games, considering the intensity of professional athletes, were rather intense. The players were playing on the ice with tennis balls before practice on Tuesday.
“They try hard no matter what they’re playing,” said Wilson.
Mark Smith was part of the winning team (the players were divided into four teams) and Ryane Clowe
was named the Most Valuable Player.
“If Clowe hung up his skates, he probably could be a professional dodgeballer,” laughed Smith. “Pickles (Marc-Edouard Vlasic
) was all right. He’s slippery. You can’t hit him.”
Clowe actually has some dodgeball experience.
“I taught at a camp and for off-ice, we played dodgeball,” said Clowe. “I jumped in and picked off a couple of kids.”
However, amid all the fun and games, there was a minor injury to report.
“Mark Bell hit Milan (Michalek) and gave him a bloody nose,” laughed Wilson. “There were no torn rotator cuffs or elbow injuries.”
It made for one of the better “work” sessions outside of games.
“It was about having fun,” said Curtis Brown.
On the serious side, the Sharks rested some sore bodies.
“It’s good to get rested,” said Brown. “We’ve been able to be around the families. It seems as if we’d been playing non-stop.”
The physical demands can be harder that the average fan thinks.
“You go through stretches feeling great and others where it takes everything to just get on the ice,” said Brown. “One of the sayings in sports is, ‘Are you injured or hurt?’ If your wrist or leg hurts, you play through it. It is good to get a full day and night to recharge.”
And recharging mentally is just as important.
“Most overlook it, but there is a big mental aspect to it,” said Brown. “The brain needs a break too.”
MAKING UP GROUND
The Sharks trail Anaheim by 10 points with two games in hand on their Southern California rival, but Team Teal is just two wins behind the Ducks. The difference is the loss column. Both clubs have lost 10 contests, but Anaheim is second in the League in overtime/shootout losses, giving them six additional games with points.
PATZOLD BACK TO WORCESTER
Dimitri Patzold was in San Jose to allow Team Teal to rest netminders Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov during the last four days and even in practice, he noticed a few differences between the AHL and NHL.
“The biggest difference is the players don’t need the time to think here,” said Patzold. “You also have a couple of players who shoot the puck extraordinarily well.”
Patzold was returning to Worcester on an afternoon flight.
POTENTIAL JERSEY ALTERATIONS
The NHL is exploring the use different fabric for all jerseys next year. The Sharks tested the latest model at Wednesday’s practice and gave their opinions to the League. Unlike the NBA basketball, the NHL is testing the jerseys and getting feedback before running with the newest look. The jerseys will be less absorbent and stretch easier.