Dany Heatley’s spectacular performance in his home debut wearing the teal and orange rocked the HP Pavilion last Thursday but how did it rank amongst other first timers playing in front of San Jose’s hockey faithful.
In hockey, as in life, there is nothing more important than a first impression. While the hockey season is long and provides several opportunities to change unwanted first takes, there were several Sharks that seized their premier opportunity and got things started off on the right foot.
Here is my list of the Top Five San Jose Sharks Home Ice Debuts:
Roenick had been an NHL top performer for almost two decades before he came to the Sharks in an off-season acquisition and many fans had to wonder how much this fading star had left in him.
Jeremy did his best to prove to the faithful that this old-timer still had some of the intangibles left in his tank.
In his first game at the HP Pavilion as a Shark, Roenick scored the first goal against the Predators in the second period and it turned out to be the game-winning goal. It was his second game winner of the year and it sparked fans to quickly fall in love with the unstoppable show that is Jeremy Roenick.
It didn’t take Sturm long to get the city of San Jose behind him. A shade under 17 minutes into his first NHL game, the 21st overall pick from the 1996 NHL Draft put up his first assist, setting up fellow rookie Alex Korolyuk for his first NHL Goal.
Later in the second period, Sturm would break open a tie game, netting his first NHL goal and game winner. Marco went on to score 128 more goals and 27 game-winners for the Sharks, landing seventh and third respectively on San Jose’s all-time list.
Drafted third overall in the 1998 NHL Draft, Stuart rushed out of the gates in a hurry, doing his best to live up to his draft day potential.
In his first NHL game in front of an opening day crowd, the defenseman would notch his first ever NHL goal.
Stuart would not stop there though. During the four game home stand to start off the season, Brad would add four helpers, convincing fans that he would be the offensive defenseman to patrol the blue line for several years to come.
Six years later, Stuart would be a pivotal piece in the blockbuster trade that brought over Joe Thornton.
The buzz surrounding the Joe Thornton trade had many people wondering how fast this NHL Superstar can make a difference on the ice.
Their questions were answered immediately in Joe’s first two road games where he posted two assists in each game, but the fans got to see the magic in person in Thornton’s first Bay Area home stand.
Thornton’s first home point would come less than three minutes into the game against the Thrashers on a perfectly set up pass to Jonathan Cheechoo. Joe would add a power play goal later in the period and continued to amaze fans throughout the home stand, putting up ten points in his first four games in San Jose.
Thornton hasn’t looked back since that trade and has been the catalyst to the Sharks’ continued regular season success.
Heatley’s hat trick was the first time a Shark performed the extremely difficult task in his home ice debut.
More amazing than the hat trick was Heatley’s plus-6 +/- rating. He was on the ice for every Sharks goal that night and his achievements in this game is head over heals the best home opener ever put together by a newly added Shark.
The perennial goal score has definitely started off his career in San Jose with a boom and has quickly turned any doubters who thought this All-Star would not be able to get his head on straight.
Hopefully there are more Heatley-filled nights with the cold winter upon us.