The Sharks have a true enforcer on their hands in Kurtis Gabriel. But former Sharks enforcer John Scott recently ripped Gabriel on his "Dropping The Gloves" podcast.
After dealing with an avalanche of angry Sharks fans, Scott hosted Gabriel on his podcast and San Jose's newest tough guy explained his mindset on the ice as a fighter.
"That's my authentic self," Gabriel said. "That's probably why you got all that hate coming after you, because I got an army of love behind me and people that love being themselves and they see me doing it and I love it, man. I want the NHL to be fired up every night. ... Let's bring it back to where every night we're going to war, because that's the kind of hockey I like."
Gabriel only has played in six NHL games yet has found himself in a handful of fights early in his career. That's partly why Scott crushed the 27-year-old winger. Gabriel tweeted "nobody will disrespect this team" after one of his fights, and Scott isn't quite sure Gabriel has earned that.
"Pump the brakes Gabriel, you've been in the league for less than a half of a quarter of a cup of coffee," Scott said on his podcast the previous episode before having Gabriel on. "Like you've had a handful of career fights, like let's not get carried away here man, that kinda irked me a little bit. You're not even in the top five, 10 guys in the league who are tough. When you get a reputation you can maybe say something like that, but even that like I don't think you should say something like that, it's embarrassing.
"It's like OK, you're the man, everyone is gonna see that quote and they're gonna want to do anything versus the Sharks because they're scared of Kurtis Gabriel, stuff like that where you're just showboating a little bit in the media, like nobody cares, I hope he gets knocked out, he deserves to get beat up after that comment, he fought Kyle Clifford and he fought Ryan Reaves, and he did OK in both fights good for him, it doesn't mean you get to go out and spout at the mouth like 'no one is gonna mess with the Sharks if I'm in the lineup' like easy, honestly, settle down kid."
That's simply not going to happen with Gabriel. Being calm just isn't who he is and he's perfectly fine having a target on his back that some veterans might want to attack.
"Bring the target, put it right on my forehead," Gabriel said. "I'm way too fired up for these games, I could care less. And I think that's really my mindset and that's what I'm portraying. ... You ask all these guys, I'm the same guy talking to you right now as I am in the locker room and I'm the same guy on the ice. I'd always rather be shot as a lion than as a sheep.
"If you're gonna tell me to calm down then I probably won't have a job anymore."
Scott did tell Gabriel he loves watching him fight and his style on the ice. He knows the importance of having a strong enforcer and Gabriel is impressing him as one this season.
While Gabriel, who is in his first season with the Sharks, hasn't scored any points, he believes San Jose is the perfect organization to let him be who he is as a player.
"I mean, twenty-seven hits in six games, averaging seven and a half minutes of ice time ... I think I'm getting around and making an impact," Gabriel said. "They see that, they hear me on the bench. ... I have these guys in the perfect spot, the perfect organization, the perfect GM, coaching staff, players to just slide right in and be myself."
Gabriel also believes the Sharks are much better than their 11-11-3 record.
"I think we're gonna surprise a lot of people. I think something good's starting here."
The Sharks play in the stacked West Division, which also boasts some of the best enforcers in the game. Though Gabriel won't say where he ranks among the enforcers, it's clear he's ready to fight anyone if it helps his team win games.
"I'm here to win hockey games," Gabriel said. "I'll fire the fans up and grow the game, but I know my place. I'm here to win hockey games and if that means having to go through 10 brick walls, [I will]."