After San Jose beat Anaheim on Friday night, Sharks In-Game TV Host John Shrader pulled Jeremy Roenick aside for a postgame interview in front of the sellout crowd at HP Pavilion. Before Shrader could even get a word in, the fans were on their feet screaming for Roenick, who scored the game-winning goal in the third period of the 2-1 win.
|San Jose Sharks center Jeremy Roenick, left, scores a goal past Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, of Switzerland during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, March 21, 2008. San Jose won 2-1. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) |
The interview was halted for nearly 30 seconds as the crowd noise made it impossible to continue the on-air conversation.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Roenick said following Monday’s morning practice. “Seriously, I almost cried again. I’m an emotional guy when it comes to stuff like that, but they wouldn’t stop and it took me by surprise. It made me feel really good. It made me really proud to be a Shark.”
It’s no secret that people in San Jose love Roenick. And that doesn’t go without reason. Since signing with the Sharks last summer, the veteran has re-kindled his career by netting nine game-winning goals, three shootout winners and becoming the third American-born player to score 500 goals. Roenick also leads the NHL with 12 game-deciding goals.
Plus, Roenick gives the fans personality and passion. In a time where many professional athletes create more off-field, than on-field, news, Roenick acts like he’s the people’s choice by smiling, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd.
“The fans understand that I’m an older guy. I’ve been around for a while and I try to enjoy myself as much as I can,” he said. “I try to make it fun for them also. That’s a fun relationship.”
Why does Roenick have such an engaging personality? You have to flashback 29 years to a Hartford Whalers practice in Hartford. Roenick, then nine, attended the practice and had the surprise of a lifetime when Gordie Howe skated over to him, dumped snow on his head and then winked at him before skating away.
“He didn’t have to do that,” Roenick said. “You know, for that two seconds, it was just him and me. That stuck in my stomach and in my heart. So I try to do that every day when I’m on the ice or when I come in contact with someone. That’s a good feeling.
“When you can remember how you felt as a kid and how much it really meant to you, I could walk on water for months after that,” he continued. “There was no one better than me. Gordie Howe picked me. And I try to do that to everybody, every kid.”
Years later while signing autographs at the National Hockey League All-Star Game, Roenick got the opportunity to thank the legend for that small act of kindness.
|San Jose Sharks center Jeremy Roenick, bottom, celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in a shootout against the Minnesota Wild in an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, March 19, 2008. San Jose won 4-3, in a shootout. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) |
“We’ve become friends since, but I told him that was the reason I wanted to become a hockey player,” Roenick said. “Because of that moment.”
There’s no doubt Roenick is among the most dynamic and charismatic players to ever have played the game. After having a frustrating season with Phoenix last year and considering himself as retired, Roenick was selected as a 2008 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy candidate by the San Jose chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Each team nominates a candidate who exemplifes the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Whether in print or on the ice, Roenick is connecting with people for the way he plays the game.
“He’s the type of guy that’s a superstar player, but at the same time he has a quality not everyone has,” fellow veteran and linemate Curtis Brown said. “He’s not afraid to speak his mind.”.
When asked why fans have always loved Roenick, Brown gave an animated answer.
“The fans like him for the same reason they like Mickey Mouse and all the characters at Disneyland,” Brown said. “He’s a character!”SIDELINED
Forwards Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Rissmiller missed practice today and their status for tomorrow’s game at Phoenix will be determined at game time. Cheechoo was still sore from the cross-check to the head he received from Anaheim’s Chris Kunitz in Friday night’s game and Rissmiller has a lower body injury.
The Sharks travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes tomorrow night at 7:30 PM (Pacific). The game will be broadcast on VERSUS, 98.5 KFOX FM, Sharks Radio Affiliates and SJSHARKS.com.