While the Sharks official opening to training camp takes place next week, numerous Sharks are already back in town in preparation for 2006-07. Captain’s Ice has been on-going since the middle of August, but that didn’t occur until the players had a chance to catch up on the personal lives during the summer.
The life of a professional athlete is a good one, make no doubt about it. However, there’s a side that most people don’t see: like being away from children for two weeks at a time (the Sharks have a road trip that lasts from Feb. 7-24 this year) and playing three games in four nights culminating with more visits to the trainer than the ice.
Some players kept their summers rather simple as others took advantage of the down time to explore different countries. Others are just trying to figure out where to live.
Mark Smith combined a vacation to Peru with his music career and brought home a new instrument – the donkey jaw.
“It’s a real donkey jaw. I think it’s their national instrument. If anyone knows how to play it, we’ve got an open spot. I’m going to try and get it on the album we’re recording.”
Smith enjoyed the South American country for more than just the music.
“Peru was awesome. Lake Titicaca was terrific. There is so much energy down there and the people were great. We made a lot of friends.”
Smith’s eclectic group, The Talking Trees, toured this summer and jammed in Kelowna, British Columbia where they hooked up with Scott Hannan.
“We played a bunch of shows in Canada and Scott booked us in Kelowna. We stayed at his house, so I made sure to give him an all access pass,” Smith said with a smirk on his face.
And of course, the hair color changed a bit.
“It stayed green and white for a bit, good Saskatchewan colors, but now it’s orange. I don’t know what’s next.”
San Jose’s rugged blueliner Doug Murray returned home to his native Sweden for the bulk of the offseason with a few exciting side trips.
“I went to the French Riviera for a week and that was relaxing. I was also in New York and visited some college friends and the people I stayed with when I first came over here.”
Murray was actually skating back in Sweden before Captain’s Ice in casual sessions organized by Team Sweden’s trainer. The hard hitting defenseman even played a little golf, although it wasn’t hit top summer pastime.
“I played in Peter Forsberg’s tournament, but golf isn’t my thing,” said Murray. “I like it, but I’m a little too high energy for it.”
Newly acquired winger Mark Bell took in a different sport this offseason, watching soccer in Germany.
“I went to the World Cup for a game,” said Bell. “It was the U.S. against Italy and it was a really good game. Then I went to Ireland and drove around the country with a couple of friends.”
While traveling across the Atlantic makes for big vacation, Bell hung around his hometown of St. Paul’s, Ontario for a good chunk of the offseason.
“I have a place near where I grew up and my brother has a place right there.”
Like most Bay Area transplants, Bell is now settling into his new surroundings.
“I came out two weeks ago to do some house hunting.”
Captain Patrick Marleau
wasn’t quite as extravagant as he primarily visited his family up north.
“I held my golf tournament with Trent McCleary for our foundation,” said Marleau. “I also hit a couple of weddings.”
Last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner, Matt Carle, attempted to lay low as well.
“I really didn’t go anywhere. I wish I had more time, but I went to Alaska to see my family and spent a lot of the summer in Minnesota. That allowed me to get away a bit. I didn’t know anybody there. When I wasn’t in the gym, I wasn’t expending a whole lot of energy.”
The Twin Cities allowed Carle to stay out of the spotlight that shines on him back in Anchorage. When Carle was in his home state though, he returned with his replica Hobey Baker Award.
“We put it on display in a case at the local hockey shop to give a little back,” said Carle who appreciates the support from Alaska’s hockey community. “I hope to help more kids some day like people helped me. They have a good hockey association up there.”
Evgeni Nabokov found time for a trip to Hawaii, but his primary excursion was similar to a lot of local parents.
“We went to Disneyland for the first time.”
Starting next week, summer will be all but over for the boys in Teal as they begin training camp and a long journey that they hope will end in the Stanley Cup being raised in San Jose.