If there’s anything Sharks fans have to brag about at the moment, it’s having already captured the Pacific Division title…and maybe having the number 1 slot in the conference …oh and don’t forget they also have the best view of the entire league, the view from the top is just about the best view you can get. Alright so Sharks fans have a LOT to brag about…(in their minds they always have) but if you ask any true fan, they will surely tell you, it’s the talented team that fuels the dedication. Now what makes the Sharks team different than other teams in the league, you might ask? Simple…
Many (in fact MOST) teams have their superstars, their “Jumbo Joe” equivalents and they become the team’s “sun”…everything and everyone revolves around them…sure they have a few surrounding planets but no one shines as bright as their superstar. That story is undeniably different in the regard to the Sharks. Not only do they have the actual Joe Thornton, but with teammates like Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek, Evgeni Nabokov, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, Jeremy Roenick or Joe Pavelski how can one player make any bigger an impact than another? They don’t. In fact, to the 17,496 people that pack out the Tank every game night, this entire roster is their “sun” and no one shines brighter than the others…they simply take turns. Recently I attended an Islanders game at Nassau Coliseum and struck up conversation with one of the many incredible fans in attendance that night. When asked who my favorite Shark was, I was actually rendered speechless…and honestly…I was stumped. When I didn’t answer because I didn’t know how to answer, he just smiled and said, “Wow…you really are a true fan…you love the whole team.” I turned to him and I just said, “Yeah…I guess you’re right…”
As of late, Sharks fans have had even more reason to be proud…and expand their bragging rights. With injury plaguing much of the team at a very inopportune time, the Sharks organization had no choice but to call upon their affiliate, the Worcester Sharks, for help. Recently there have been four roster spots filled by Worcester players (Tom Cavanaugh, Jamie McGinn, Brad Staubitz and Ryan Vesce)
The Worcester Sharks have become so accustomed to life in San Jose, their presence at HP Pavilion is just as natural as seeing S.J. Sharkie with some little kid’s head in his mouth. For these guys, playing for the number one team in the league and playing alongside the same guys they grew up idolizing and watching on TV, is completely unreal. In total, nine Worcester players have been called up throughout the season…and these players are no bench warmers. Tom Cavanaugh scored his first NHL goal against Phoenix on March 28, Jamie McGinn scored goals in back to back games on March 22 & 25th, Ryan Vesce at the time of his recall had a team leading 68 points in Worcester and was fourth on the list of scorers in the AHL…and the player who has pummeled his way into the hearts of all “Fin-atics”, the guy who through playing 34 games with the big club this season is as much a San Jose Shark as he is a Worcester Shark, Brad Staubitz.
Staubitz, who having played 34 games in SJ, has gotten more NHL time than any of his fellow Worcester teammates…and while he may not have the goals to show for it, there is a reason why he has stayed in San Jose so long. When I spoke to Brad after a game in Lowell, MA in January, he summed up his experience skating on San Jose ice in one word, a “treat”. The smile that spread across his face while he talked about playing in the NHL was one of pure joy. This is a hockey player who knows how lucky he is to be taking part in such an incredible team…but after 34 games, the true treat has not just been for Brad, but rather for the thousands of fans who have embraced him. Brad has become known for his physical style of play and Sharks fans aren’t complaining…he clearly possesses the same characteristics that they too possess in regard to the team…loyalty, devotion and passion...and he isn’t afraid to prove it. There may not have ever been a bigger celebration during and after a fight as the one on March 19th at HP Pavilion when Brad took it to Jordin Tootoo. He received a standing ovation…and if you’ve ever been to the Shark Tank, you know how incredible that is. Being named the third star of that game, he explained in his post game interview how sometimes it’s just about the energy you can bring to the team…and if that’s what he can contribute then he’s done his job.
With 76 penalty minutes throughout his combined stints in San Jose this season and 130 in Worcester, it’s clear he has no problem doing what he does best, creating energy for his teammates and breathing life into the game. When all is said and done, Brad’s got a lot to brag about after having a season like he has…he’s done his family and friends proud, that’s for sure…but what he may not even be aware of is that he’s given Shark fans both in San Jose and in Worcester a heck of a lot more to brag about. In 34 games, he’s definitely left his mark on San Jose and has become just as much a part of the team as Jonathan Cheechoo, Jody Shelley or Milan Michalek…and it’s apparent that he’s enjoying his time with the big club.
Well Brad, you’ve earned it.