SAN JOSE – The biggest moment in Micheal Haley’s NHL career came last season against Edmonton, and it was old time hockey at its finest.
In response to the Oilers’ Darnell Nurse blindly jumping and beating up Roman Polak on March 8, the Sharks recalled and dressed Haley for a game in San Jose two weeks later. Everyone knew what was coming, including Nurse, who admirably answered the bell in the first period and promptly got a quick, hard right hook to the jaw from the Sharks’ tough guy.
It may be a dying role in today’s NHL, but a guy like Haley still has value to the Sharks, as evidenced by his remaining in training camp with just one week to go until the regular season.
“It’s still a part of the game. There’s no doubt that he makes everybody a little more comfortable when he’s in the lineup to take care of things,” Pete DeBoer said.
Haley played his part on Wednesday night in a preseason game against Anaheim, dropping the gloves with Jared Boll, who signed a two-year contract with the Ducks in the offseason and has a history of physical play and borderline hits – including when he was fined for a high check on Joe Thornton way back in 2012.
If the division rival Ducks want to dress a guy like Boll on a regular basis, Haley is a useful hammer for San Jose to have in its toolbox.
“You’ve always got to be aware of [Boll],” Haley said. “He has been known to have a few big hits, so if you let him get going – [but it’s] not just him. They’re a heavy team, they always have been. Obviously when I play I play physical too, so it’s always in my head.”
DeBoer said: “He brings a presence, a playing toughness that you can put on the ice and keep people honest. He’s a reliable player, too. I think the guys appreciate him when he’s in the lineup, and appreciate him as a teammate.”
The 30-year-old Haley played 16 games with the Sharks last season, with one goal and 48 penalty minutes. It’s difficult to see him eclipsing that game total this season, especially with the Sharks’ added depth on offense.
Still, the organization felt it was important to bring him back on a one-year contract extension in the offseason. According to generalfanager.com, Haley would make $625k at the NHL level, and is guaranteed $300k regardless of where he plays. Last year with the Barracuda, Haley was counted on more to produce offensively, with 23 points (12g, 11a) and 52 penalty minutes in 41 games.
“The nice thing I like about him is that you can play him,” DeBoer said.
Haley will keep playing the same way, of course, and see if it earns him a place on the opening night roster.
“I’m not young anymore, I’m not a rookie. I know how it goes. You just kind of keep your head down and play hard, and wherever the chips fall, they fall,” he said.