When the final horn blows following another Sharks victory at HP Pavilion, that used to signal fans to start heading to the exits. Starting last year, there became a reason to stay a little longer. There’s a little bonus from the players to the fans as the Sharks gather at center ice for a send off to the paying customers.
It’s like that little extra bit of customer service and it originated with the skaters themselves, specifically with Captain Joe Thornton
. He picked up on the idea while playing in Switzerland during the lockout and implemented it in San Jose.
“It’s just something we started last year and we continued it this year,” Thornton said. “It shows how much we appreciate our fans. Most European teams do it and I’ve seen quite a few NHL teams do it now.”
Thornton was the push behind the initiative, but every current Sharks player relishes the postgame festivities. For them, it’s simply a way of acknowledging the support and cheers they feed off of during home contests.
“It’s one of those things. The fans appreciate it and we appreciate them,” Thornton said. “Rather than just go off the ice at the end, we salute each other and I think it’s a nice little treat for them.”
“The fans love it,” Patrick Marleau
said. “That’s why we do it.”
As National Hockey League teams started using more European players, it’s only fitting their part of the fan experience bleeds over as well.
“Even when we played in Germany, the players go the extra mile (for the fans),” center Scott Nichol said.
In the end, it provides another unifying thing for the club to do and is a tip of the cap to the people who make San Jose a special place to play.
“It’s nice. The game is so intense and crazy so it’s nice to come together and salute the fans,” Nichol said. “We go on the ice together as a team and we go off the ice together as a team.”
Head Coach Todd McLellan reiterated the plan was for defenseman Douglas Murray
(lower body) to travel with the team to Denver and Dallas.
“He’s making the trip,” McLellan said. “He’ll be evaluated tomorrow morning. If he can play, he’s playing even though he hasn’t skated for a couple of days. If he does play, that means he’s 100 percent healthy and mentally ready to play.”
If he needs to prep again, rookie Derek Joslin feels ready.
“It felt good,” Joslin said about his first appearance of the season on Monday night against Los Angeles. “I just kept it simple and tried to be solid out there. We have amazing talent in this room and I’ve been battling these guys day in and day out in practice. If felt good and I just want to bring my game up another level.”
LIGHTING THE LAMP
Here’s something to watch during Wednesday’s Sharks-Colorado game from the Pepsi Center: the Avalanche lead the Western Conference in goals per game at 3.41. Only Washington (3.61) and Philadelphia (3.50) are better. Colorado’s top goal scorer is right wing Chris Stewart, who’s among the League leaders with 10. The Avs also have three players among the NHL’s top-30 scorers: Stewart (tied for ninth, 20 points), right wing Milan Hejduk (tied for 11th, 19) and center Paul Stastny (tied for 19th, 18).
The Sharks will visit Colorado on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and the game will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.