|Jeremy Roenick ready to roll as steady Sharks open training camp|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 14 September 2007 15:51|
After that, the San Jose Sharks' newest forward couldn't wait to get out of town.
The talkative veteran already was a hit among his new teammates as the Sharks formally opened training camp with a scrimmage Friday. Almost every player has been skating in San Jose all week or longer in preparation for Tuesday's exhibition opener.
``It's all about Roenick - can he play, can't he play?'' Joe Thornton said in mock frustration to his new teammate when they met in a hallway at the Sharks' training complex.
``This team is really smart, and it already knows what it needs to do to win it all,'' Roenick said. ``All it needs is that last push at the end of the season, and I'm hoping I can provide it.''
Roenick, who signed a one-year deal earlier in the month, was the only well-known newcomer who joined the Sharks, though free-agent defensemen Alexei Semenov and Brad Norton also suited up Friday. Except for the holes left by departed defenseman Scott Hannan and goalie Vesa Toskala, the top of coach Ron Wilson's roster already is set.
``All it took for the players we had last year was about five minutes of scrimmage, and it looked like we'd never stopped,'' Wilson said. ``We've built a pretty good situation here. We lost a couple of guys, but we've got good guys who have played in the NHL ready to take more responsibility. There's plenty of openings, and there's a lot of competition.''
The Sharks' best training-camp intrigue usually involves San Jose prospects battling to win a job with the big-league club - just as defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic did last season.
Several such competitions already are shaping up, including Dimitri Patzold's battle with Thomas Greiss to be goalie Evgeni Nabokov's backup. Depth roster spots are available at every skating position, and San Jose is searching for a solid sixth defenseman.
Though Roenick doesn't know his role or position with the Sharks, he's determined to be a positive influence on a young club that appeared to crave veteran leadership in previous seasons. He's also grateful for another legitimate shot at his first Stanley Cup after spending the last two years with losing clubs in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
``You can't understand the level of excitement when you get to come to a team like this after you've been battling and losing for so long,'' Roenick said. ``It's hurt a lot to get into shape this quick, but there's a reward at the end.''
After years of offseason workouts, Roenick said he spent June and July in an unfamiliar routine: ``On the golf course every day, and (drinking) a bottle of wine every night with my wife.''
Roenick figured he was retired, but went on a fitness kick after learning of interest from Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, his first roommate when he broke into the NHL in Chicago. Roenick already feels fit enough to compete, and he looked strong during the Sharks' scrimmage.
``Doug taught me a lot about what it takes to be a professional, on and off the ice,'' Roenick said. ``I'm going to be excited every day I come here. I can't tell you how many points I'm going to score. I can't tell you how many minutes I'm going to play, but I'm going to work especially hard.''