The choice for my favourite all-time Sharks player was easy. Mike Ricci played seven of his best seasons in teal, and had my kind of mix of grit and skill.
Overall, he played 16 seasons and 1099 games, scoring 243 goals (including 41 game-winners) and 362 assists to go with 974 penalty minutes. With the Sharks, he played 529 games with 101 goals (15 game-winners) and 162 assists to go with 355 penalty minutes. While he was +19 with San Jose, he finished his career -20.
A quick analysis of those numbers would indicate his penalty minutes and scoring went down with the Sharks, and he was at his best defensively in those years. That is pretty much accurate, since his most productive scoring years were his first four with Philadelphia and Quebec (226 points in 306 games), but during that time he was -19.
It was during the championship run with Colorado that he began to hone his defensive skills. With centers Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg ahead of him on the depth chart, Ricci played on the checking line and fine-tuned especially his face-off skills.
With the Sharks, he perfected what he had begun even though he was moved up onto the second line and relied on more for scoring. He could be expected to make grinder plays in the corners and in front of the net, but was still capable of being a serious scoring threat between the face-off dots. His craftiness set him up for his current role in the front office as a Sharks adviser.
The current favourite is a bit more difficult. Anyone can choose the superstar, so I could not pick Joe Thornton. Moreover, he does not fit my personality-type: he is laid back and calm, and I am a guy with a high-intensity, vocal, chip-on-your shoulder approach.
In other words, I am like the player Ken Armer compared me as a writer to, Jeremy Roenick. What better choice for my favourite player?
I was a little reluctant to pick him as my favourite current Shark since he has only been with the team one year. He had a modest 14 goals and 19 assists in 69 games and was -8. He had only five points in 12 playoff games.
More than that, he was also known as a hothead and malcontent at his past two stops. But I've been known as a hothead and malcontent at a few of my previous jobs, while at my current one they consider me an accomplished producer and a leader with high standards. I feel empathy for JR.
Plus my other choices had to be rejected for various reasons. Rivet was traded, Clowe and Murray do not have long enough resumes, and Mike Grier's horrific post-season is the last image we have of the usually strong playoff performer.
Meanwhile, Roenick had a couple big playoff games even though he played on the fourth line. He was clutch all season, leading the league in game-deciding goals (which includes shootout winners) even though he tallied only 14 official scores on the season.
For his career, JR has over 500 goals and 1200 points in just over 1300 games. He is a whopping +154 and has 92 game-winning goals to go with 1439 PIM. In 148 playoff games he has 53 goals (12 game-winners), 68 assists, and is +22 with 103 PIM.
He was a high-energy guy who was not afraid to bark at players not putting out equal effort. I would love to see what a team with 12 JRs at the forward position could do against a team with all-stars who don't have grit.
I'm bettin' on the JRs.
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