Sharks

Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky lists some of his favorite wins among 1,000

Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky lists some of his favorite wins among 1,000

Editor's note: After the Sharks won their 1,000th regular-season game on Jan. 10, NBC Sports California asked Dan Rusanowsky, the voice of the Sharks, to write about his favorite wins. Rusanowsky has been the team's radio play-by-play broadcaster ever since the franchise began in 1991.

The question came up as the San Jose Sharks confidently strode toward the amazing milestone of 1,000 wins in their history: if a list of the best regular-season victories could be assembled, which games would be included?

Having been in the broadcast booth since that very first game -- a loss on Oct. 4, 1991 in Vancouver -- I thought I’d give it a try. However, in assembling the list, I found it was exceedingly difficult to narrow it down, due to the fact that so many memorable regular-season victories have been celebrated by the denizens of Sharks Territory.

Well, we had to get the list pared down, and after some serious consideration, I got it down to two groups: a top 10 list, plus six honorable mentions. These are 16 great wins in Sharks history, and I’m certain some that didn’t get to the final 16 deserve to be there.

Here are the six honorable mentions in chronological order. On Saturday, I'll reveal the Top 10.

Jan. 13, 1996 at PIT: Sharks 10, Penguins 8
After watching a 2-1 win in New Jersey from the stands, Ray Sheppard and Owen Nolan returned to the lineup in Pittsburgh with a vengeance.  Sheppard scored a hat trick and added an assist, Nolan had 2-1-3, and the Sharks withstood a four-point performance from Mario Lemieux to win at the Igloo in Pittsburgh. To the present day, it’s the most goals ever scored in a Sharks game by both teams.

March 30, 2002 vs. CLB: Sharks 10, Blue Jackets 2
It was the first time that the Sharks ever hit double digits in a home game. Teemu Selanne (2-2-4), Patrick Marleau (2-2-4) and Vincent Damphousse (2-1-3) had the big nights offensively. 

April 10, 2006 at ARI: Sharks 3, Coyotes 2
Jonathan Cheechoo became the first Shark to score 50 goals in a season as he later claimed the Rocket Richard Trophy. He had two goals, including the game-winner, and one assist.

January 4, 2007 vs. DET: Sharks 9, Red Wings 5
The Sharks scored a team-record six power-play goals in nine attempts. Joe Thornton tied a team record with four assists in the game. Marleau (1-3-4), Mike Grier (2-1-3) and Ryane Clowe (2-0-2) were the big producers.  

January 18, 2014 at TB: Sharks 5, Lightning 4
Two natural hat tricks were scored in this game. Joe Pavelski scored his three goals in the second period to propel San Jose to victory. Amazingly, Martin St. Louis not only completed a natural hat trick earlier in the period, but he also had another one earlier in the game for a four-goal night in the losing effort.

January 23, 2017 at COL: Sharks 5, Avalanche 2 
Marleau scored a natural hat trick in the third period, and after Colorado scored one goal, he picked up his fourth goal of the period. Other contributors: Brent Burns had 1-2-3, and Logan Couture had 0-2-2 and was plus-5.

[RELATED: How Burns, Karlsson have impressed NHL goalies]

Joe Thornton showing Sharks no sign of post-trade deadline hangover

Joe Thornton showing Sharks no sign of post-trade deadline hangover

SAN JOSE -- Joe Thornton has a no movement clause in his Sharks contract but made it crystal clear last week he was willing to waive it for a chance to win his first Stanley Cup. That won’t happen here in San Jose, where a miserable season mercifully is winding down.

General manager Doug Wilson shipped three players to playoff contenders. Patrick Marleau was in that group, now gunning for a championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thornton was not.  Jumbo's still rocking teal. 

The 40-year old future Hall-of-Famer expressed disappointment in that outcome the following day, but the sentiment didn’t last long.

Thornton’s already back to his jovial self, with no lingering grief that might impact play as the Sharks play out the string starting Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils.

“That’s one guy I never worry about,” Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said Wednesday after Sharks morning skate. “I said it would’ve been nice to find the right situation and the right opportunity. He was very public with his comments about that. We support that as well and would’ve liked to see someone who has given so much to the game be rewarded.

“But, the very next day, and even today we had a conversation about it, and he said all that’s over with now and let’s get back to work. We’re all doing something we love to do. There’s no better example of that mindset than Jumbo. He always has a smile from ear to ear and loves coming to the rink every day. That’s never going to be an issue with him.”

Captain Logan Couture’s a bit torn over seeing Thornton still with the Sharks, but ultimately happy to have his friend help lead this team down the stretch.

“We’re fortunate to have him,” Couture said. “I do wish I was going to be watching him playing in a couple weeks, still on the ice with a chance to win the Stanley Cup, just because he deserves it. He’s such a great competitor and such a great guy. But I am happy he’s here, though, I wish we were headed to the playoffs.

"Unfortunately, that’s not the way it is.”

[RELATED: Wilson hopes Sharks' youngsters can help team finish on high note]

Thornton has said this won’t be his last hurrah, though his Sharks tenure might be ending soon. He’s set for unrestricted free agency after the season, with an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup atop the priority list.

That seems unlikely for a Sharks team with several upgrades and additions needed to find previous form.

The fact Thornton wants to keep playing isn't surprising to those who see him work every day.

“I’m not shocked,” Couture said. “He’s going to be 41 in July but he still has some game left. Some of these games lately, he has been one of our best players and led our team, through all the injuries, to compete in these games. He still has great hockey in him. He sees the ice as well as anyone as has life in his legs.

"It’s pretty remarkable.”

Could Joe Thornton leave Sharks for Maple Leafs in NHL free agency?

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Could Joe Thornton leave Sharks for Maple Leafs in NHL free agency?

Joe Thornton has said his 22nd NHL season won't be his "last hurrah," and the longtime Shark can sign elsewhere this summer as an unrestricted free agent. 

Thornton wasn't traded to a contender to pursue his first Stanley Cup before this week's deadline, and winning a ring will be top of mind on July 1. San Jose currently has the second-worst record in the Western Conference, so could Thornton be tempted to leave the Bay Area this summer? 

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman predicted Wednesday in his "31 Thoughts" column that the Toronto Maple Leafs "will be a factor" if Thornton decides to sign elsewhere. 

"I can’t confirm this, but I believe the Maple Leafs considered adding him now," Friedman wrote Wednesday. "Two things stopped it: 1) their decision not to make short-term fixes after the Carolina loss, and 2) are they really a legit contender if they have to go through Boston or Tampa Bay or both? ... Thornton would have eased the tension right now, but the organization wants to see how everyone top to bottom reacts and performs. Next season is a different story."

The Maple Leafs' last loss before the trade deadline came at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes and an emergency backup goalie, and the notoriously tranquil Leafs fan base and media circuit reacted about as calmly as you'd expect. Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas was a cooler head, however, opting not to make any major moves while the Leafs hang on to the Atlantic Division's last playoff spot. 

Toronto should make the Stanley Cup playoffs, but its path out of the Eastern Conference looks daunting this year and beyond. The Atlantic boasts the NHL's two best teams in the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, and both are as well-built for success in the 2021 postseason as they are this spring. Thornton could help the Leafs close the gap, but he'll turn 41 in July and can't do that by himself. 

If all goes well this offseason -- and that's still an if -- Thornton's current team would have a clearer route to a Cup. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has made it clear he intends to build a contending team for 2021. San Jose restocked its draft cupboard ahead of the trade deadline and could use that newfound ammunition to build around a core that Wilson believes in. The Pacific Division is by far the NHL's weakest, too, and the teams ahead of the Sharks all will face a salary-cap crunch of some kind this summer. The opportunity is there to get back into contention that might not have been if San Jose was in another division.

[RELATED: Marleau faces familiar foe in first game with Penguins]

Thornton, for his part, told The Athletic's Kevin Kurz that he believes in the Sharks' ability to contend next season. 

"I think we’ve seen -- maybe not to this extent -- but I think last time we missed the playoffs (in 2015), we go to the Cup final (in 2016)," Thornton told Kurz on Tuesday. "We have pieces here that are the backbone of this team, and I hope that’s the case going forward.”

Thornton is at the stage of his career where winning is more important than anything else. As long as he believes he can do that in San Jose as his career winds down, it's hard to envision anything else.