For the first time since 2014, Drew Remenda will be on a Sharks broadcast.
Remenda will join "Sharks Pregame Live" at 6:30 p.m. Friday on NBC Sports California, ahead of San Jose's road game against the Anaheim Ducks. He will also appear during both intermissions and "Sharks Postgame Live" after the broadcast as well.
The 58-year-old previously was a TV color commentator for the Sharks from 1999 through 2006 and then again from 2007 to '14. Remenda also was one of San Jose's first assistant coaches, serving on the Sharks' bench from 1991 to '95.
Ahead of his return to the Bay Area airwaves, I spoke with the coach-turned-broadcaster about his earliest days in San Jose, why his heart has never left and the current status of the team.
Questions and responses have been edited for clarity and readability.
Brodie Brazil (BB): Aside from coaching the team, going back to your beginnings as a Sharks broadcaster, did you ever realize the responsibility you had in this new market, of teaching people the game?
Drew Remeinda (DR): I did have that in my head all the time, that I had to teach the game. [Inaugural Sharks head coach] George Kingston put it in my head: We’re here in a new market, a non-traditional market, and to help grow the game, we’ve got to teach the game.
The one thing I always thought about when I started broadcasting was, "Why?" You’ve got to tell people the "why." Coaches will tell you now, that you have to tell players the "why," when you used to say, "just go do it." It’s because players are smarter now, and more sophisticated. And so are fans. Especially hockey, it’s a game you have to follow, you have to watch it.
BB: You’ve left the Sharks for various different capacities, in various different times over the years. This is not the first time you’ve been away. But I know one thing: You could never quit the Sharks. Why is that?
DR: You had me at hello, basically, with the Sharks. [laughs] George Kingston hired me for that first job … I came to San Jose, fell in love with the Bay Area, fell in love with the fans, fell in love with the team, everything was like a dream for me. But the reason you can’t quit the Sharks is because of the people you get to work with. I can go through the names in that office, and there are people that I absolutely adore.
BB: The Sharks are not in a playoff position right now. They’ve gone through some excruciating circumstances out of the gate, but what thing or things could you identify right now -- that would help them get into that position?
DR: First, their defensive structure … even though they’ve allowed the second-most goals per game, you can see what [coach] Bob Boughner is trying to institute. I have seen Brent Burns play a more controlled game than I’ve seen him play in the last couple years, maybe ever. He’s trying to be alert, aware defensively. He’s trying to play within what Bob wants. And that’s not Brent, he just goes. The chaos he creates is both good and bad. But you can see the defensive structure and what Bob is trying to get them to do, game in and game out.
They get a lot of shots on the power play, they get a lot of chances, they need to get some finish. That's No. 2.
The other things you see, there are some positives. You’ve got some quickness, some guys can get up and down the ice. Their third and fourth lines can do that, and can create some problems. If they could grab an identity where they are just a pain in the rear end to play against … that’s where you can probably swing momentum.
The other thing is, to have your best players really pull on the rope. They’ve got to lead by example every single night … and that’s a lot to ask of the guys. Lot to ask of Evander Kane and Logan Couture, and Erik Karlsson and Burns. But they have to be their best for whatever games are left. They have to, or else you’re not going to win.
BB: As for team defense, much of the outside focus routinely goes on the Sharks' defensemen, but that’s not the whole thing, right?
DR: No, and we’re not just talking about playing in your own zone. Team defense starts when you don’t have the puck. Nobody says you can’t play defense when you’re in the offensive zone, by having a good forecheck.
We often look at the six guys playing on your blue line, you’re right. And that’s why you look at the good teams -- you take care of the puck, and when you don’t have it, you pressure to get it back.
BB: I’m not sure the Sharks have a defined identity right now, a single way that they could consistently win games. Can they develop a "calling card," that would be their blueprint of how to get results they want?
DR: When you bring new guys in, when you’re in a shift, which is definitely what’s happening with the Sharks -- you have to make sure the people that come in understand what your identity is. You have new coaches, and new players coming in. So it’s up to Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, guys who have been there a while to establish what a true team identity is.”
I don’t think the Sharks have quite figured it out yet: Who they are, how they have to play and what they have to do to play that way every single day.
Being at home [this past week], being a little more stable in knowing what’s going to happen in the future, will give their top players that chance to say "OK, this is who we need to become."