It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog and Torrey Mitchell and Joe Pavelski are out to prove it. No, they won’t become NHL enforcers in the near future, but the duo could both play important roles in San Jose’s march to the Cup.
Pavelski and Mitchell are the only two players in training camp less than six feet tall. Both players are 5-foot-11 with Mitchell weighing 175 pounds and Joe Pavelski 195 pounds. They may play with the biggest team in the NHL, but remember players like these also help San Jose keep its tag as the NHL’s fastest club.
The players know they aren’t the biggest around, but they really don’t notice it day-to-day.
“I didn’t think about it that much,” Mitchell said about how his height affected his style of play. “I was pretty small growing up. And with the new rules, no hooking and holding, sometimes it can be advantage to be smaller and quicker than the big guys.”
In 1980’s the average NHL player stood 5-foot-11 and weighed 188 pounds. The players in this year’s All-Star Game averaged 6-foot-2, and 214 pounds. The Sharks are packing their own big guns with center Joe Thornton at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and defenseman Alexei Semenov 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds.
Coach Ron Wilson said, “There still aren’t many small guys in the ‘league’. Mitchell is 175; Pavelski is 195, so they’re not that small. (St Louis forward Paul) Kariya is small and he’s excelled.”
Both players understand that to play at this level, height isn’t the only thing that matters.
“At the pro level, the guys are a little bigger. It’s not a major issue, just an adjustment,” said Mitchell.
“You have to have a lot of skill to play on this level,” Pavelski said, “This league is for the best players in the world and if you’re good enough, you’ll get rewarded.”
Pavelski’s hard work definitely paid off last season with 14 goals and 14 assists in his 46 NHL games.
“I never thought I would not make it (because of my size),” he said. “If you are a little smaller, you have to work a little harder.”
Pavelski is the example for guys like Mitchell fighting to make it. “He is a similar player to what I am and it was nice to see him make it,” Mitchell said of Pavelski. “It shows if there is an opportunity you can make it and I hope to follow in his path.”
Still speed and skill are necessary when falling on the shorter side of the tape measure.
“If you’re a third or fourth line guy and small, you’re not going to play unless you have exceptional skill,” Wilson said.
With the skill they both possess, they each have the ability to be more than fourth liners, but they each still have work to do.
The Sharks will play Calgary
tonight at 6 p.m. and the audio will be available on sjsharks.com.
Shark Byte is back with a chomp! Drew Remenda returns as the first show debuts tonight at 6:30 pm on FSN Bay Area. More details at fsnbayarea.com.