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Teaching the Right Way

by Ross McKeon / San Jose Sharks
Between Bryan Marchment and Mike Ricci, their career playing statistics look like this:

  • 2,025 regular season appearances,
  • 193 Stanley Cup Playoff games,
  • 871 points, regular and postseason, and
  • 3,460 minutes in penalties.
Here’s what doesn’t show in the stats: Both are winners.

When Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson had the opportunity to add both ex-Sharks to the front office this past summer, it was a no-brainer.

“The impact they will have in this organization is going to be real important,” Wilson said.

Marchment, the married father of two teenagers, will be based out of suburban Toronto as a scout and roving instructor. Ricci, who’s returned to the South Bay with his wife and three kids, will be an advisor, performing numerous tasks.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. In fairness of the players, they needed to make the decision,” Wilson said. “We’re not real complicated with what we do. We just want people who can get us there.”

Ricci and Marchment provide a tangible Wilson calls “experiential learning.” That means the duo can share their experiences to every player in the organization, especially to those in San Jose. “I just don’t think you can put a value on having quality players like that who just want to help the team,” he said.

Wilson feels surrounding the players with two no-nonsense personalities will help keep players focused. In addition, these National Hockey League veterans can provide the players with a sounding board for advice.

Marchment and Ricci seem perfect for their roles. After all, they’ve experienced everything one could possibly experience in the NHL. Not only are they perfect for their roles, they’re excited to have them.

“I’m very proud, very excited to be back in San Jose,” Marchment said. “I spent a majority of my happy years here. They treated me with nothing but class.”

“It’s all going to revolve around what I was as a player, more or less doing anything I can to do to help the team win,” Ricci said. “It works for me perfectly. I loved it here, playing in the organization was great. I just want to be part of a Stanley Cup.”

Marchment had already appeared in 466 regular season games for five NHL teams when the Sharks acquired him from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline late in the 1997-98 season. Marchment helped a late-season Sharks push into the playoffs, their first postseason appearance in three years.

Marchment played 334 of his 926 games in San Jose — more than any of the other eight NHL teams he played with in his career. During his five years in Silicon Valley, the Sharks never missed the playoffs.

Marchment’s reputation was based on an old professional sports cliché: “You hate him when he’s on the other team, but you love him when he’s on yours.” “Mush” was known as a hard-nosed blueliner, but even more important was his leadership skills and locker room presence.

Maybe Marchment didn’t play like Bobby Orr, but his approach enabled him to enjoy a 17-year NHL career that ended in 2005-06 with Calgary.

“I’ve always feared losing my job. Maybe that’s why I played as long as I did,” Marchment said.

The last time Marchment wore Teal was in 2003. Despite being away for four years, the situation has remained the same for the most part.

“We had a great core group of guys when I was here and it hasn’t really changed much,” said Marchment, who was selected by Winnipeg as the 16th overall pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. “Those guys have stepped up to the plate, taken a leadership role and are passing it down to the younger guys.”

The 38-year-old Marchment will be expected to be a mentor to the defensemen in the organization. He saw two former teammates (current Anaheim Coach Randy Carlyle in Winnipeg and Steve Larmer in Chicago) act in the same role.

“I’m putting my playing career in the past and looking forward to a new one with my family,” Marchment said.

Ricci, now 36, is also happy to return to the Sharks. He became an instant fan favorite when he was acquired from Colorado early in the 1997-98 season.

“I’m going to be just like I was when I was 18,” Ricci said, “trying to learn and help where needed.”

Like Marchment, Ricci also hails from Scarborough, Ontario. Like Marchment, Ricci was known to frustrate and infuriate the opposition with his strong defensive skills. Earlier this decade, Ricci was one-third of arguably the NHL’s best No. 3 line along with right wing Niklas Sundstrom and left wing Scott Thornton.

“When I got traded to San Jose, my buddies laughed. They said, ‘You’re not much of a California guy,’” Ricci said.

“Reech” wound up playing 529 of his 1,099 regular season games with the Sharks. And like Marchment, Ricci played more games with the Sharks than with the other three teams that were part of his NHL career, which started in 1990 after being the No. 4 overall pick by Philadelphia in the NHL Entry Draft.

Ricci was a member of two Pacific Division Champion teams in San Jose and was on the squad that went to San Jose’s first Western Conference Finals in 2004. In fact, some of the members from that team are still wearing the Sharks sweater.

“As a player, hopefully I did touch them a little,” Ricci said. “They made me better and I made them better. I’m proud of that. When we get that final crowning achievement (winning the Stanley Cup), everything will be where we want it to be.”

Ricci hopes he can contribute to a young player’s career the same way that veterans such as Keith Acton and Ron Hextall did when Ricci debuted with Philadelphia in 1990.

“Guys like that, right from Day One, helped out,” Ricci said. “Every team you play on, there are guys you look up to. I’m going to hopefully do that.”

Wilson feels if Marchment and Ricci can approach their new roles in the same way they played on the ice, they will have an impact.

“They both have that no B.S. factor. They look you in the eye,” Wilson said. “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. I will not only be using their hearts, but their heads, too.

“I don’t want them to change, I want them to be themselves,” he added. “They both had long and successful careers. I think they’re ready.”

Ross McKeon is the NHL editor for Yahoo! Sports.
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