Obviously JR has lost a bit over the course of his 18-year career, but last night he showed why this Sharks team has all the ingredients to finally hoist Lord Stanley's cup. He scored the opening goal of the night, had a pretty assist to Curtis Brown, and scored the decisive goal in the shootout. A productive line in the box score indeed, but his true impact was seen by those who watched the game and didn't just read the recap.
Throughout this season JR has played with passion and tenacity on every shift, just like he did last night. He throws his body around, works hard on the boards, and plays like a young kid trying to make his way up to the big time (see: Devin Setoguchi, Torrey Mitchell), but with the mental acumen and savvy that comes only with experience.
When Doug Wilson signed him in the offseason for a cool half mil there were some grumblings about him being a malcontent and a cancer in the locker room—washed up even. Financially it wasn't a great risk for the Sharks, but in terms of team chemistry and locker room make up it was a huge gamble to take.
It has paid off in spades.
Now the Sharks are rolling and threatening to catch Detroit. They have seemingly solved their road/home issues from earlier this season. Eleven-game win streak anyone? The Sharks have continually worked hard to get better as the season has progressed, and one has to think Roenick has had a lot to do with it.
Interesting to note: Not only did I drop the Swingers quote and predict JR would win the shootout (seriously, I did), but I also compared Roenick to the legendary Ray Borque and his stint with the hated Avalanche. After watching his stellar play last night, as well as the incredible professionalism and class he showed during the 12 minutes it took to triage Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster after a crash into the boards resulted in a broken leg, the comparison was obvious to me. The missing ingredient.
I sure hope it ends for JR and the Sharks the same way it did with Borque and the Avs: as champions hoisting the Stanley Cup.