Monday night will close out the Sharks three-game homestand, but it will be the beginning of everything for forward Steven Zalewski. The upstate New York product, who played for Clarkson University, will make his National Hockey League debut tonight. Zalewski had started the season with San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate in Worcester.
“Zalewski is in,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “He’ll start with Manny (Malhotra) and Jody (Shelley).”
McLellan saw Zalewski in training camp and knows what he’s looking for out of the rookie.
“He’s heady and smart and sees the ice well,” McLellan said. “We’d like to see some bite to his play.”
Obviously, Zalewski is joyous about the opportunity.
“I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to come up here and play,” Zalewski said. “I’ve been going hard for a few weeks (in Worcester) and I’m excited to be here. Now I’ve just got to come in and bring some energy and play my game.”
Zalewski was so excited about the call that when he got the news at 5:30 in the morning yesterday, he didn’t worry about the time when he made his first call.
“I called home yesterday at 5:30 when I found out,” Zalewski said. “They (his parents) were excited, but I think they went right back to sleep.”
Zalewski’s linemates are hoping to help in his debut.
“He’ll be excited and we’ll tell him to keep it simple,” Shelley said. “It’s a day he’ll never forget.”
Zalewski has posted one goal in three games with Worcester this season. While there, he began playing the wing instead of his natural center position.
“When I went down, I went to wing and got used to that position,” Zalewski said.
There’s just one bit of “bad” news to Zalewski’s promotion to San Jose – he’ll have to miss a team bonding trip to Maine with his Worcester teammates.
“We have about a week off and I was about to head to a team camping trip in Maine,” Zalewski said. “It would have been fun, but I’ll take this.”
And hopefully, many around the NHL will get to learn how to pronounce his name. It’s pronounced zuh-LEH-ski. The “ew” doesn’t make a long “u” sound.
“It’s a Polish name,” Zalewski said. “You don’t pronounce the ‘w.’ It’s silent.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Utica, N.Y. was originally selected by San Jose in the fifth round (153rd overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Today marks Canadian Thanksgiving, but it can be hard for the Canadians on the Sharks to be in step with the major holiday back home. Especially this year with the Sharks playing on the date.
However for Dany Heatley, it was very easy as he has his family in town.
“We had our dinner last night,” Heatley said.
Malhotra usually plays host for the younger single Canadians on the roster, but since he arrived in San Jose so late and since the Sharks have barely been home this season, that dinner didn’t occur.
“We wanted to, but there weren’t any fresh turkeys at the store,” Malhotra said.
Kent Huskins noted the day snuck up on him.
“I was reminded about it,” Huskins said. “We’d normally have a turkey. I’ll make up for it on American Thanksgiving.”Marc-Edouard Vlasic
was in the same boat.
“I had no idea when I heard about it,” Vlasic said. “I forgot about it.”
The Sharks traditional fundraising effort of having the players wear holiday-themed practice jerseys during morning skates has returned. This morning, the backs of the jerseys featured a Halloween design and the sweaters will be auctioned off at a game later this month.
It’s a bit of a surprise to the newer players when they see the special jerseys at their stalls.
“Can’t say that I have,” said Malhotra when asked about previously wearing jerseys featuring a pumpkin on the back.
THREE ON A MATCH
Worcester’s Brandon Mashinter
recorded a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” (goal, assist and a fight) in Worcester’s 4-3 shootout loss in Bridgeport Friday night.
The Sharks are preparing for a tough game against Phoenix as the club is gelling under new Head Coach Dave Tippett. The Coyotes won their first two games before losing their last two – including their home opener on Saturday vs. Columbus.
“They’ve had two-and-a-half weeks with Tip as coach,” said McLellan. “They are a tenacious group that skates well.”
The Sharks will play hosts to Phoenix Monday night at HP Pavilion and the contest will begin at 7:30 p.m. It will be carried by CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.