Emotional Nolan hangs up skates

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Emotional Nolan hangs up skates

SAN JOSE After exactly 1,200 NHL games, 422 goals, 885 points and almost 1800 penalty minutes, former Sharks captain Owen Nolan wanted to remind his mother of another accomplishment when he announced his retirement from professional hockey in a press conference at HP Pavilion on Tuesday.

I think back to when I broke into the league, my mom said jokingly to me, you better not lose any teeth, or youre in trouble, mister. Well, mom, 1,200 games later I still have them all, Nolan joked, with his immediate family sitting in the front row.

One of the most effective power forwards of his era, an emotional Nolan, who spent eight seasons with the Sharks from 1995-2003, sat beside Sharks general manager Doug Wilson and fought back tears.

When your body wont do what your mind and your heart is willing to do, its time to move on, a choked up Nolan said after a 15-second pause to collect himself. Ive enjoyed every minute of it, and had the opportunity to play with some great teams and some great teammates.

Among the players in attendance were current Sharks Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Brent Burns, former teammates Mike Ricci, Dave Lowry and Scott Hannan, as well as Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who is in town for the Sharks-Calgary matchup on Wednesday night and who won gold with Nolan on Team Canada at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

VIDEO: Sharks time machine -- Nolan

Nolan also received congratulatory phone calls from Bryan Marchment, his agent Mike Barrett, and Bob Nicholson, the C.O.O. of Hockey Canada.

All essentially echoed Wilsons words of praise for the former first overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

He was one of the rare, prototypical power forwards that had enough skill to beat you either way, Wilson said. You look in this business, everybody is trying to find that type of player now. They just dont exist. To play that role its a physical role and very tough on your body and tough mentally and have the talent to do the other things, too, is rare.

RATTO: Is it time for the Sharks to retire Nolan's number?

He was also among the toughest and hardest players of his era to play against.

He was one of those guys that, he wasnt a dirty player at all, but if you crossed him, if he felt like he needed to get you, he had no problems doing it, Ricci said.

He was extremely competitive, said Marleau, who broke into the NHL in 1997, the year before Nolan was named captain. When he was at the top of his game, he was one of the most feared guys out on the ice. Not only could he score goals, he could lay you out with a body check or even drop the gloves and take care of it that way.

After getting traded by the Sharks to Toronto in 2003, Nolan spent time with the Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild. He was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques and moved with them to Colorado for just nine games before he was traded to the Sharks on Oct. 26, 1995.

He tried out for Vancouver this past September after spending last season in Switzerland, but the Canucks decided not to sign him. About a month ago, he ran into Wilson and the two talked about him retiring with the Sharks organization.

The ultimate thing was to have him retire as a San Jose Shark, Wilson said. It was something that he wanted and we wanted badly. Weve used today as a celebration and appreciation for what hes done for this franchise. It means an awful lot to us, and to see him and his family here is very exciting for us and very well deserved.

It was certainly a great gesture on their part, Nolan said.

Despite getting traded out of San Jose, Nolan kept his house, with plans to retire in the area one day.

I knew pretty well that come retirement time I was going to stay out this way, he said. My wife is from here, kids were born here, and I love it here. It was a pretty easy decision.

That didnt make it any easier for him to actually hang up his skates, though.

Its tough to give up something you love doing. I think I knew the time was already here. I think I knew it was here a little while ago, but the heart and mind just wants to keep doing it. Were all programmed to do it, and to try and gear down and accept that youre not what it once was

The fire is still there, you want to compete, but the body just cant keep up. I had to accept that, and finally realize that it was time to move on.

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks' Vlasic joins Canada for World Championships

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic will compete in the upcoming IIHF World Championships for Team Canada, it was announced on Friday.

The tournament runs from May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. 

Vlasic, 30, a native of Montreal, has played in the tournament twice before in 2009 and 2012. He also represented Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games, helping it to a gold medal, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which Canada also captured.

In 75 games with the Sharks this season, Vlasic posted 28 points (6g, 22a) and a +4 rating. He was second on the team in shorthanded time on ice (2:04 per game) and blocked shots (146).

A pending restricted free agent in 2018, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson called getting Vlasic signed to a long-term deal an offseason priority for the club. The two sides can begin negotiations on July 1.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” Wilson said. “[He] is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

The Sharks lost in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to Edmonton, although Vlasic and partner Justin Braun helped to keep Connor McDavid in check at even strength. The league's leading scorer had just one even strength point in the six-game series, an empty net goal with less than one second left in Game 6.

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

Boedker tops list of disappointing Sharks depth forwards

SAN JOSE – The Sharks didn’t make any blockbuster moves last summer, content to make another run in 2016-17 with largely the same group that came within two wins of capturing the Stanley Cup.

They still acquired a notable player, though, when Mikkel Boedker was signed on July 1 to add an element that the Sharks knew they needed more of moving forward – speed. Boedker was expected to make the team faster, after the Sharks were exposed for not having enough of that against Pittsburgh in the NHL’s final round, as well as play in a top six role. 

At the time, it was hailed as a slick, under-the-radar move that wasn’t going to change the dynamic of the club but could help push it over the top.

When Boedker was a healthy scratch in games three and four of the first round against Edmonton, the evidence became clear, though, that this was a decision that fell flat on its face. 

Frankly, Boedker – who is signed for three more years with a $4 million salary cap hit – brings back visions of Sharks bust Marty Havlat. You know the skill is there, but the desire to use it on a nightly basis while showing any semblance of a battle level is lacking. 

Should the Sharks give Boedker another chance next season, or should they do everything in their power to try and move him? That’s a question that will likely be debated in the front office over the next several weeks.

On get-away day on Monday, indications were that the Sharks were planning on sticking with the 27-year-old, who finished with 26 points in the regular season (10g, 16a) and added one goal and one assist in four games in the playoffs.

“He has the things we’re looking for: his career scoring average, his speed, [penalty killing] ability,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “Did he meet the expectations that he had for himself [or] that we had for him? No. Can we get that out of him? Pete [DeBoer] believes we can.”

DeBoer has known Boedker since he played for him in 2007-08 in Kitchener (OHL). Despite scratching him in the playoffs, DeBoer said he saw “huge improvement” in Boedker throughout the course of the season after the forward spent nearly all of his NHL career in Arizona.

“There was an adjustment. He’s played 6-7 years a certain way in the NHL,” DeBoer said. “We’ve asked him to play differently here, and there was an adjustment.”

Boedker still believes that he can be a fit in San Jose.

“I think it will be and it can be,” he said. “It’s learning period, but you’ve also got to look in the mirror yourself and see what you can change and what assets you need to bring. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m ready to do that.”

The list of Sharks depth forwads that had frustrating seasons hardly begins and ends with Boedker, though.

Veteran Joel Ward’s production dipped from 43 points last season to 29 in 2016-17, although that probably isn’t too surprising considering he’s 36. Tomas Hertl is proving to be a streaky player, too, although his season was interrupted by another a knee injury.

The bigger disappointment came from players like Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, who both made big impressions in the 2016 playoffs but struggled to produce consistent offense this year. Both were mentioned by name by DeBoer on Monday.

There are some promising youngsters in the pipeline like Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but it’s still too early to project any of them as can’t-miss scorers at the NHL level.

“I think we’ve got a large group of guys that I like, but need to step up,” DeBoer said. “Is Sorensen [like] Donskoi next year, where he takes a step back, or [does he take a] step forward? We’ve got a lot of guys that there’s a lot of potential there – Chris Tierney. 

“There’s a lot of those guys, but they need to have big summers and take a step, and show that they’re not just one season or one month players.”