Former Sharks All-Star Granato has strong bond with Pavelski
The NHL All-Star Game comes to San Jose at the end of next month. And while the exhibition has morphed into nothing more than a shiny game played by a bunch of millionaires, the event has produced memorable moments along the way. Hometown hero Owen Nolan called his shot by pointing to a corner of the goal and beat East goalie Dominik Hasek to cap a hat trick in 1997, the first and only other time the All-Star Game has been contested in the South Bay.
But there was another Sharks’ sidebar to the game worth revisiting today. Forward
Tony Granato had signed with San Jose before the 1996-97 season in a comeback from a serious head injury. On the way to scoring 25 goals at age 32, Granato was a late add to the West roster by Commissioner
Gary Bettman following a injury to another player.
In addition to making his lone All-Star appearance, Granato fulfilled a dream by taking the opening faceoff against ex-teammate and close friend Wayne Gretzky, who was a New York Ranger at the time. It was only a year earlier — while attending a Super Bowl party at Gretzky’s home with other Los Angeles Kings teammates — that Granato needed to be rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery as a result of a hit several days earlier.
Granato in turn won the 1996-97 Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, the first of only a handful of major honors won by the Sharks. Following his 13-year career, Granato was the head coach in Colorado and was an assistant in Pittsburgh and Detroit. In addition to coaching the U.S. men in last winter’s Olympics, Granato is in his third season as head coach at the University of Wisconsin, his alma mater.
Granato also keeps his eye on another accomplished Badgers product — Sharks captain
Joe Pavelski, who with a team-high 18 goals before the weekend appears a strong candidate for next month’s All-Star Game.
“He is what he is, the All American Joe,” Granato said. “He just does everything right.”
Pavelski, 34, played two seasons for Wisconsin, helping the Badgers win the 2006 NCAA title. A seventh-round draft pick by San Jose in 2003, Pavelski left school to embark on an outstanding pro career.
Pavelski has not forgotten his collegiate roots. He trains each summer at the university, and spends all the time Granato asks of him talking to recruits or current players.
“What it does for our program — whether we’re bringing recruits through or our kids are here for the summer — they see how an NHL guy trains and they understand why Joe Pavelski has that competitive spirit and continues to produce at that top level,” Granato said.
Here’s an idea: If there’s a late scratch by a selected player, the league couldn’t go wrong by adding Joe Thornton to next month’s All-Star Game West roster. And they could do likewise with Toronto’s Patrick
Marleau in the East. Wouldn’t that be a hoot for Sharks’ fans?
Golden touch: The Golden Knights are 8-2 since Nate
Schmidt returned to the lineup. The defenseman was suspended for the first 20 games — without pay — for taking a banned substance. He passionately denied doing so knowingly and was supported by everyone who knows him well.
Yes, the Seattle franchise will operate under the same expansion draft rules as Vegas, which means the Sharks will have protection decisions to make in advance of 2021. … In spite of recent comments from their general manager regarding a possible roster shake-up, the Penguins have rallied out of last place by winning four of their past six. … And it just has to be suggested: Flyers mascot Gritty for president.
Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks with 18 goals and seems a strong candidate to make this year’s All-Star Game in San Jose.
Tony Granato’s appearance at the 1997 All-Star Game in San Jose was inspirational.