San Francisco Chronicle

Sharks prize habits built from winning

- By Ross Mckeon

Whenever the Sharks look to add a piece to their puzzle — whether to the roster, the coaching staff or the front office — the prospectiv­e newcomer’s experience­s play an important role.

Wednesday’s signing of 12-year veteran forward Scott Gomez coincides with the offseason addition of associate coach Larry Robinson. Both spent considerab­le time with two respected franchises — the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens.

These things don’t happen by accident.

“When people come from organizati­ons that have high expectatio­ns, understand the importance of details and how they’ve been trained, yes, we take that as a factor,” general manager Doug Wilson said.

Gomez joins a list of ex-Sharks who spent considerab­le time — four or more seasons — as either a Hab or Devil including Vincent Damphousse, Craig Rivet, Scott Thornton, John MacLean, Bill Guerin, Chris Terreri, Colin

White, Brian Hayward, Claude Lemieux and Ken Sutton.

Robinson is part of a staff that stems back to Montreal’s family tree that includes Wayne Thomas, John Ferguson Jr., and his late father John Ferguson Sr.

“When you really dig into the core of what we believe in, it comes from those types of environmen­ts,” Wilson said.

The winner of six Stanley Cups as a player and three more as a coach, Robinson says Montreal and New Jersey’s success stems from something as simple as a defense-first approach. Robinson also recognizes late GM Sam

Pollock, who built nine Cup champs in Montreal.

“Everyone was scared to death of him,” Robinson said. “When he came down, everyone worked hard and had a lot of pride in their organizati­on.”

Murray Wilson, the older brother of San Jose’s GM, was a four-time champion in Montreal — never mind that his name was misspelled on the Stanley Cup after winning the first three times. Doug Wilson credits his brother’s window into the Canadiens’ inner-workings with having an impact on his beliefs.

“It’s not what you say, it’s what you do,” Wilson said. “When you come from the right environmen­t, every detail matters.”

Gomez broke in with New Jersey and spent seven seasons with the Devils before moving on for two with the Rangers and three with the Canadiens. President and GM Lou Lamoriello has stood for the same principles for 26 seasons in Jersey.

“They gave you 20 games to be a rookie, but after that it was, ‘We’re going for a Stanley Cup and this is how you do it,’ ” Gomez said. “You learn to be a winner.” Ratings game: Early-season ratings dismiss the notion fans will boycott following the lockout. Wednesday’s Toronto-Pittsburgh game earned the highest regular-season rating (1.4 million viewers) since 2009 on Canada’s TSN network. NBC Sports Network said Wednesday’s Rangers-Bruins matchup was the mostwatche­d cable game in 11 years. And in Buffalo, the Sabres’ store sold nearly 50,000 pieces of merchandis­e, an amount greater than its sales for the entire 2010-11 season. Tired legs: Something to watch for this truncated season is how teams perform on the second night of back-tobacks, especially against rested opponents. The Sharks took advantage of weary Phoenix on Thursday, wiping out a 3-1 deficit in the final 11 minutes against a Coyotes team that won the night before at home.

Conference rivals Chicago and Detroit are involved in the most back-to-backs (12) in the league. In other words, half of the games for the Blackhawks and Red Wings occur on consecutiv­e nights. The Sharks have eight back-to-backs,

starting this weekend at home. Slap shots: Judging from his controvers­ial Theo Fleury like goal celebratio­n against the Kings on Thursday, Edmonton 19-year-old Nail Yakupov let the Sharks off easy after he scored his first career goal at home. By the way, San Jose has watched 78 opposing skaters score their first career goals, a sizable total for a team that’s been around for only 20 years. … Patrick Marleau, selected as the No. 1 star in each game, is the first player to record multi-goal games in the first three contests of a season since Peter Stastny in 1982-83. … How quick will this season pass? After next Saturday’s game, the Sharks will have completed one-quarter of their home schedule.

 ?? Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle ?? Patrick Marleau is the first player since the 1982-83 season to open the campaign with three consecutiv­e multi-goal games.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle Patrick Marleau is the first player since the 1982-83 season to open the campaign with three consecutiv­e multi-goal games.

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