San Jose Sharks sign veteran centre Jeremy Roenick to one-year deal

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Sep 4, 2007
The Hockey News

San Jose Sharks sign veteran centre Jeremy Roenick to one-year deal

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Sep 4, 2007

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson, a teammate of Roenick in Chicago almost two decades ago, had the ultimate offer - come and help his team win the Stanley Cup.

"A lot of teams expected me to retire and thought I was retiring," Roenick said Tuesday. "But it took the initiative of one person to make the phone call to find out is that was really happening."

The 37-year-old centre officially signed a US$500,000, one-year deal Tuesday, chump change for a former 50-goal scorer who earned $4.94 million just two seasons ago.

But in this case, the tired cliche - it isn't about the money - appears to be true.

"This is not a financial thing for me," Roenick told reporters on a conference call. "I even asked for a bit less. My motivation is to win a Cup. My motivation is to try and gain my respectability as a hockey player back. ...

"The only reason that I would be playing this year is because of Doug Wilson and the opportunity that he's given me to play with, I think, the best team in the National Hockey League, and have a chance to win a Stanley Cup."

Roenick struggled to a 28-point season last year with the Phoenix Coyotes. His 11 goals and 17 assists followed a similar disappointing season in 2005-06, when he had 22 points (9-13) in 58 games with the Los Angeles Kings.

But Wilson believes a winning environment might spur Roenick on.

"We know Jeremy very well," said Wilson. "This is not a negative to where he's been in prior situations, but I think a player like this has to be in a situation where he perceives an ability to win and the ultimate winning being competing for a Cup."

The two-time 50-goal scorer is only five goals short of 500 for his NHL career.

He has 1,170 points (495-675) in 1,252 career games.

"It's going to be a great bonus, and I will get to that," he said of reaching 500 goals. "But it's not my motivation at all. Middle of summer, I was pretty much content on hanging them up."

Once Roenick got the call from Wilson, he hit the gym and the ice after not working out for nearly two months.

"I have felt extremely good on the ice," said Roenick. "And I'm telling you, I wake up every morning excited to get to the rink and to the gym and that's a feeling I haven't had in a long time."

But he was not lying when the Philadelphia Inquirier quoted him saying he was likely to retire earlier this summer.

"That was a very, very true feeling in my body. I had kind of lost some lustre for the game the last couple of years. But when I got a phone call from Doug Wilson ... immediately my electricity and energy came back."

Roenick had the look of player nearing the end while playing on a Phoenix team that finished dead last in the Western Conference last season.

The Sharks team he's joining had 20 more victories and 40 more points than the Coyotes did a year ago.

He'll join a forward group that includes Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo. Roenick does not have to be the man.

"We think we're a pretty good environment for Jeremy to come in and compete for ice time on this team," said Wilson.

That's just fine with JR.

"I'm going to fight guys for ice time, I'm going to battle guys and push guys to keep their spots," said Roenick. "If I play fourth-line centre and eight or nine minutes a game, that would perfect."

The Sharks were beaten by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of last year's playoffs. They also lost in the second round in 2005-'06.

Wilson looked to teams like the 1999 Dallas Stars, which won the Stanley Cup with veteran Kirk Muller. He thinks Roenick can put his recent struggles behind him and help get this Sharks team over the top.

"We watched his last 20 games," said Wilson. "In this game you have to be able to skate . . . (and) physically, he can keep up.

"He has that burning desire to win and take another swing at winning a Cup."

It's the one major accomplishment Roenick's career is missing.

In attempt to change that, Roenick's vowed to make some changes. The main one will be keeping his mouth shut: "It's going to be a quiet year in terms of the verbal side for me."

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San Jose Sharks sign veteran centre Jeremy Roenick to one-year deal