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Upcoming Road Trip Far From Ordinary

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are preparing for a quick two-game road trip following Thursday’s game with Phoenix, but it won’t be just any other trip.  The Sharks venture to Phoenix and Dallas on Saturday and Sunday will be made along with many fathers.
 
Following what is quickly becoming a tradition among NHL clubs, the Sharks have invited the players’ fathers to travel and even room with their offspring. 
 
“Doug (Wilson) said something this summer and we looked at the schedule,” said Wilson.  “The back-to-back after Christmas, we thought a lot of fathers would be here and be able to make it.  Maybe it would encourage some to come out for Christmas.”
 
It is a hockey family coming full circle.
 
“They get to share something with their dads,” said Wilson.  “There is a financial commitment (with kids playing hockey).  Hockey players need their parents.”
 
“It is a big change from my dad driving me all over,” said Patrick Marleau.
 
There is a reason the current trip was planned.
 
“They are nice weather cities,” said Wilson.  “The travel is not too bad.”
 
But it will give the dads a chance to see what their kids go through with regards to travel as the Sharks will log three flights and more than 3,400 miles.  Plus, the fathers will have to go through arriving at a hotel or home after 2 a.m. as their sons routinely do.
 
“They get to see both sides,” said Wilson.  “The travel is not too bad.  This will be a good trip.”
 
The Sharks have allowed family members to make trips previously, but this is the first time is has been all-encompassing.
 
“Sturm’s dad came on a trip and so did McLaren’s,” said Wilson.  “It was open to anyone, but this year it was more structured.”
 
Wilson’s Washington teams took a trip with a different member of the family.
 
“In Washington, we took the wives on a drip to New York, but they were almost separate from us,” said Wilson. 
 
Wilson feels the fatherly presence will have a positive effect on the trip.
 
“They don’t want to let their dads down,” said Wilson.  “Player won’t be doing anything different except sharing a room with their dad.  We’re not going to the circus or Disneyland.  It is a hockey trip and the dads are part of the team for a couple of days.”
 
Nonetheless, the players are excited and Wilson will likely have to worry less about his players than on any other games at home or on the road this year.
 
“Some of us are still scared of our dads,” joked Marleau.
 
CALENDAR YEAR
The NHL released the leaders in several categories for the 2006 calendar year.  Cheechoo ranked first in game-winning goals (9), third in goals (47) and fifth in power play goals (20); Thornton ranked first in assists (88) third in points (11); Marleau finished ninth in power play goals (18); and Toskala finished tied for seventh in shutouts (5) and first in points earned in available games (.783), fourth in goals-against (2.21) and eights in save percentage (.916)
 
McLAREN STILL OUT
The Sharks will likely still have another game to play without Kyle McLaren who has been out with the flu.
 
“He has a viral infection and has lost a lot of weight,” said Wilson.  “We certainly miss him.”
 
As for playing Thursday, it is doubtful as McLaren has not skated for four days.
 
FINISHING FOURTH
Thornton finished fourth in voting for Canada’s Lionel Conacher Award, annually given to the top athlete from Canada.  He was beat out by NBA MVP Steve Nash who won the award. 
 
LIGHTS OUT
A power outage to part of San Jose shut down the lights at the Sharks practice facility, giving the players an unexpected day off Wednesday.
 
NEXT GAME
San Jose will square off with Phoenix Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion.  Limited tickets are still available at the HP Pavilion Box Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.  The game will be aired on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.
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