When the Sharks held their annual Fantasy Camp last week, some former Sharks players had a chance to return to the building they called home for several years. The faces that skated with the campers included Igor Larionov, Jeff Friesen, Al Iafrate, Jamie Baker, Bryan Marchment and Dave Maley.
For Larionov and Friesen, it was their first visit to the Fantasy Camp, which raises funds for the Sharks Foundation.
Larionov officially retired in 2004 and has branched out into various post-hockey adventures, most notably beginning his own wine label. Fans looking to see if his on-ice artistry has transformed to the vineyards can visit www.igorlarionovwines.com
and join the wine club.
The venture is called Triple Overtime Wines, a reference to Larionov's 2002 Stanley Cup Finals Game Three game-winning goal at Carolina. Larionov said his successful wine venture wasn’t a matter of simply putting a label on a bottle.
“It’s not easy,” Larionov said of being a vintner. “We’re new and there are a lot of good wines and yours can easily get lost. But, we have quality behind ours.”
Larionov has jumped into the process and is more than just a famous name standing behind a product.
“The best part is working with the winemakers,” said Larionov, who now has eight wines from California and six from Australia. “When we’re blending the wines, I have to be a part of what’s in the bottle. I want to be involved.
Wines aren’t the only post-hockey passion for Larionov. He also serves as a spokesperson for several Russian companies.
“I go back to Russia six to seven times a year,” said Larionov, who also consults with a new Russian hockey league.
He also stays in shape. Never the biggest player during his career (5-foot-9, 170 pounds), Larionov still looks as if he could strap on the skates and find some seams for his textbook passing.
“I work out three to four times a week,” Larionov said. “I take spinning classes and run on the treadmill. My diet is the biggest part of it. I try to eat healthy and have a glass of wine a day.”
As for his hockey observations, Larionov has ties to the NHL’s top two clubs and sees a potential postseason matchup with each.
“I like the Sharks chances,” Larionov said. “They are well balanced and kept the core from last year together. Management didn’t make (drastic) changes.”
FROM SASKATCHEWAN TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
While Larionov is working hard off the ice, the 31-year-old Friesen still wants to play.
He was with Calgary last season, but this year, he’s only appeared in five games (four assists) for Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
These days, the native of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan is living at his home in Southern California (Friesen did play nearly two seasons for Anaheim as he was part of the Teemu Selanne trade in 2001). He’s hoping to be invited to an NHL training camp next season.
“It’s an interesting year,” Friesen said. “It’s kind of nice to be at home with my daughter, but I love playing hockey and feel I can still be out there.
Friesen felt like a rookie again at the Sharks Fantasy Camp as he was skating with Larionov, just as he had during the 1994-95 season.
“He was a big inspiration,” Friesen said. LAST CHANCE FOR ST. PATTY’S DAY WORCESTER JERSEYS
Just a few days remain to place a bid on the remaining Worcester Sharks St. Patrick’s Day third jerseys. The online auction is taking place on www.sharksahl.com
The lot of game-worn jerseys include current San Jose Sharks rookies Devin Setoguchi and Tomas Plihal. Other jerseys are from Dimitri Patzold, Thomas Greiss
, Dan Spang, Derek Joslin and Lukas Kaspar.
The auction started Easter Sunday and will conclude this Sunday at 6 p.m. EDT with proceeds benefiting Sharks Charities.
The Sharks wore these specially-designed St. Patrick’s Day jerseys for three games in mid-March. They debuted in a 6-1 win at Lowell on March 14. They were also worn at Springfield on March 15 and against Hartford at the DCU Center on March 16. NEXT GAME
The Sharks will play hosts to Dallas on Thursday at 7 p.m. at HP Pavilion and the game will be available on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Limited tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com