Play­ers have rou­tines, but are not su­per­sti­tious

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Cur­tis Pashelka

SAN JOSE >> The first rule about having su­per­sti­tions is to not to re­fer to them as be­ing su­per­sti­tions.

They’re called rou­tines, in case you were cu­ri­ous.

“Su­per­sti­tion has this stigma about it,” Sharks winger Evan­der Kane said. “Su­per­sti­tions are fine. Every­body has them, whether they ad­mit it or not.”

The Sharks have won six straight go­ing into Tues­day’s home game against the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers. They’ve com­pletely turned around their season in that time, go­ing from a team that was at the bot­tom of the Western Con­fer­ence stand­ings to one that has re­joined the pack in the bunched up Pa­cific Di­vi­sion.

There’s a few rea­sons why the Sharks have en­joyed more success: Tighter de­fense at times. In­creased scor­ing. Good spe­cial teams. Timely saves.

But be­liev­ing in su­per­sti­tion to switch up the mojo isn’t one of them, they say. Like most other

pro­fes­sional ath­letes, their rou­tines, es­pe­cially on game days, are in­grained.

Do­ing some­thing out of the or­di­nary to spark a turn­around hasn’t been out of the ques­tion in the past for the Sharks.

As a guest on the Spit­tin’ Chi­clets pod­cast ear­lier this year, for­mer Sharks for­ward T.J. Galiardi said that when the team was on a los­ing streak dur­ing the lock­out-short­ened 2012-13 season, he jok­ingly taped pre-wrap around his head be­fore a game. He later went into the trainer’s room and saw Joe Thorn­ton, who no­ticed some loose strands of Galiardi’s hair stick­ing out.

Thorn­ton then, ac­cord­ing to Galiardi, snipped off a good chunk of the pro­trud­ing locks.

The Sharks won that night, and kept win­ning. Sud­denly, a new tra­di­tion of cut­ting off a lit­tle bit of hair from an un­for­tu­nate player’s head -- usually Galiardi’s -- was born. It reached a point that af­ter a play­off win over the Los Angeles Kings in 2013, Thorn­ton, ac­cord­ing to Galiardi, snipped off a bit of hair from owner Hasso Plat­tner’s head.

Dur­ing the 2003-2004 season, gen­eral man­ager Doug Wil­son would share a pizza with two beat writ­ers as­signed to cover the team be­fore games, in­clud­ing one from The Mer­cury News. He would then sit be­tween them in the press box dur­ing games.

The rou­tines started early in the season when the team was strug­gling. That season ended with the Sharks ad­vanc­ing to its first-ever Western Con­fer­ence Fi­nal.

DeBoer said when the Sharks go on the road, he and his staff will re­mem­ber “what desk we sat the last time we were at if we’re on a win streak Or, if we lost last time in, we’ll shuf­fle the deck.

“It’s ridicu­lous, but I think every­body does it.”

When he’s at home and has a free night dur­ing the season, Sharks cen­ter To­mas Hertl said he’ll usually walk to a bak­ery in the South Bay af­ter din­ner for a cup­cake. It’s a habit he be­gan last season, and he went on to have a ca­reer year. There was sim­ply no need to change things this year.

“It started last year and it worked all season,” Hertl said, “so it kind of got into (my rou­tine).”

Kane said he’s worn the same watch to ev­ery home game this season, and right now has 10 points in 10 games at SAP Cen­ter.

Bot­tom line, if a player thinks he’s play­ing well be­cause of what­ever quirky of­fice or pregame habits they might have, then so be it. Right now, the Sharks are on a pretty good roll.

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