The Invincible M.A.E. (harleymae) wrote,
The Invincible M.A.E.

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I'm back!

Got back from Texas Friday night. It's good to be home, even though I'm kind of sickly right now. So Thorty and Trevor may be retiring. I don't want to think about it right now because bawling might be involved.

[Edit: Thorty is retiring. And they talked to him after the game about it and he cries. Thornton says goodbye. I was talking with tersa about it yesterday and how it would be great if he came and worked for the Sharks, and then Sunny could become European scout or something. :P Someone else had the same thought: I hope the Sharks bring him back on the team in some manner. If they do, they should try and find Sundstrom. The three of them could scout the minors together and pair up for one more year]

Speaking of bawling, a rather weepy article about JR:

Roenick's story is must read
Hockey great finds his home in San Jose after peculiar path

By Jim Adams
12:01 a.m. PT Apr 4, 2008

If there is no other story you read about a professional athlete this year, this must be it. Before this column goes to the bottom of the bird cage, you must cut this out and keep it.

It is a story of rise and fall, success and failure, victory and defeat. It is a tale of a man who endured triumph, trial and tribulation throughout a rich career. It is the adventure of a National Hockey League star whose flame burned bright, only to see it fade to near extinction through a series of events as his playing days seemingly came to a close.

Jeremy Roenick is an American hockey product. Born in Boston in 1970, he made a big splash on the professional sports scene in 1988 when he was drafted eighth overall in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks. In only 20 games that rookie year, he recorded 18 points. As fate would have it, his first roommate would be Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson.

Roenick tore up the National Hockey League for the next 15 years in Chicago, Phoenix and Philadelphia. He was arguably one of the game's best, hitting the 50-goal plateau in both the '91-92 and '92-93 seasons. He became a mainstay on every team for which he competed during this era, perhaps the most recognizable sports figure in each of the three cities where he played.

JR became synonymous with high achievement. It was a rare year in which he did not lead his team in scoring. He was relied upon for grit, scoring, and wins.

He delivered, in most cases, well beyond expectations.

He brought a level of performance to the arena each night that made him the envy of the NHL. Roenick was the cornerstone of the franchises for which he played and attracted fans in droves to experience his unique style of play. All three teams arguably achieved a level of success during his tenure to which they have never really been able to return.

Quite frankly, he did it all.

JR is much the "throw back player." He is a prototype of decades past, when players were down to earth, spoke their minds, were approachable, and played for the love of the game. Roenick is frank. He does speak his mind. There is no reading between the lines. He is a retro-type player who will sit down and answer each question from the heart, honestly, frankly, candidly, without hesitation. He pulls no punches and refuses to posture his responses.

Spending an hour with Roenick often produces the most enlightening reflection of a team and a sport that a writer would ever desire. It is frank, but refreshing. It is honest, yet, at times, blunt.

Roenick is more than a sports figure. He is a true entertainer. He is driven by success. His unbridled competitive nature and dedication to the sport he loves made him one of hockey's most delightful and refreshing figures. There have been few with the character of Roenick who brought this level of intensity to the rink every night.

Yet, there was something dreadfully wrong as the 2005-06 season dawned with his new team, The Los Angeles Kings.

A squad void of what you might call major talent, they would place the fortune of the franchise largely on his shoulders. It became his responsibility to deliver them to the Promised Land. Forget that he had little of the cast he enjoyed in Chicago, Phoenix, and Philadelphia. He was tasked with producing a winner in Los Angeles.

The problem was that the parts to the puzzle simply were not in place. It was a tough task. He played in a full season career low of 58 games. His production was its lowest since his 20 game rookie season. Not only did it appear as though his natural talent had betrayed him, it was tough for him to remain silent through the struggles.

He remembers, "There were some sports writers who gained their reputation at my expense along the way."

Some wondered whether Roenick's best days were behind him. Although he felt to the contrary, there were those who felt he was not necessarily the influence they wanted. After one year in Los Angeles, his tenure as a King was done.

He moved back to Phoenix for another stint with the Coyotes. Yet, the 2006-07 season would effectively go worse for him. He simply did not recapture the magic of the late '90s with the Coyotes.

Not only did he notch a mere 28 points in 70 games, he was at times at odds with Coach Wayne Gretzky. It simply was not working. He was a healthy scratch and there were too many responsibilities on his shoulders for the success of this young, inexperienced team. JR was up front. He voiced his opinion.

He was as candidly honest about the situation as he had been in the first decade of his career. Only this time, what needed to be said was more negative, more controversial. It was the truth. However, no one wanted to hear it and they most assuredly did not want Roenick to say it.

Yet, at the age of 37, JR was not about to change his ways. It was not the fit. As he exited Phoenix at season's end, most knew he would not be asked back.

Some wondered if he would be asked back anywhere. Was this the end of the road? Would it come to a crashing, unforgiving end? Was this the way it was meant to conclude ... in such an unfulfilling, painful way? Were the same qualities that made him such an important part of the game those that would usher him out? He was a scant five goals away from the 500-goal plateau. Yet, it appeared all-for-not.

There was little interest as spring turned to summer. The phone was not ringing. There were no teams requesting his service.

The poor showing in Phoenix was plaguing him and as days became weeks and weeks became months, Jeremy Roenick faced retirement.

He gradually accepted that it was the end of the road. The struggle with the ending was unpleasant. He enjoyed his Phoenix area home with his wife and family. Yet, he felt he still had a lot to contribute. He felt there was still gas in the tank. There was somewhere where he could make his mark and re-discover his talent.

Yet, the dog days of August had dawned. Training camp was on the immediate horizon. Roenick had nowhere to go. An incredibly illustrious career was crashing down around him.

There came a point at which he accepted retirement. It was a done deal. He had called it a career. He had witnessed great success and now there was a pang of failure. It should not end this way, with such disappointment.

If only he had one more chance.

One phone call changed everything
By Jim Adams
» More from Jim Adams
12:01 a.m. PT Apr 5, 2008

Most would say there is no quit in Jeremy Roenick. He had a shattered jaw broken in 17 places in 1999. There were multiple concussions and serious injuries through the years. There were tests and challenges that would have challenged the mettle of the common man.

Yet, JR had maneuvered his way through each and every adversity, orchestrating a hockey career that could only be described as brilliant ... except for the past two years. They were bad memories of tough times.

After the sun set on his second stint in Phoenix following the 2006-07 season, time seemingly had run out. Roenick had no takers. The phone failed to ring. Interest in his services had evaporated. As the final days of August slowly expired, so had Jr's career. His playing days were done.

"I just made up my mind that it was over. I was done. I was sick of it. I thought everyone had turned a cold shoulder on me," declared Roenick.

Although he regretted the way it had ended, it left time for golf and family. Yet, there was something empty about it. There was a finality that seemed altogether unfair. Roenick felt he had more to give with no team for which to deliver the goods.

Then it happened.

In late August, long after training camp rosters had been largely decided, Doug Wilson, Roenick's very first roommate when he broke into the National Hockey League, called.

You see, Wilson had developed an incredible success story in San Jose. Long renown as arguably the most talented GM in the game, Wilson invited Roenick to fly to San Jose for a round of golf. He had something he wanted to discuss with him. Anytime would be fine. Just get to San Jose.

"I was on the plane to San Jose the next day," Roenick recalls.

Surely that would be a round that he would let his host win. "Heavens no. I beat Doug. I am way too competitive to let anyone win," Roenick remembers.

Wilson spoke of the Sharks chemistry. He spoke of how the team management does not tolerate disruptions or controversy. He challenged Roenick to think about if he could fit in. In reality, Wilson, a man of deep loyalty, did not want to see Roenick's career end in a fizzle.

On Sept. 4, 2007, it was reported that the San Jose Sharks had made an unexpected move by signing veteran center Jeremy Roenick. He had signed for a scant $500,000, a bargain by today's salaries. Wilson had again raised eyebrows with his acquisition.

Could JR fit in? Was there a chance he could leave two forgettable seasons behind? With the high octane offense of the Sharks, did Roenick have anything left to contribute?

"It isn't about the money anymore. I came back for two reasons ... one to win a Stanley Cup and the second to honor Doug Wilson," stated Roenick.

He spoke of an allegiance to Wilson, his devotion to being a good citizen, his drive towards making a positive impact and contributing in San Jose. There was an intensity and relief that was evident. He sat in his practice uniform, still fully dressed and spent the next 30 minutes answering every question and asserting that Doug Wilson would be made proud by this move.

One could not help but believe him.

He would spend practices talking to other players, tapping them with his stick, providing encouragement and tips. He asserted that the ones who listened to him would improve faster and make their mark sooner.

Do not think for a moment that it was a radically changed Roenick. He still spoke his mind, answered all the questions, and left no stone unturned.

However, it was a different chemistry. This was a team that belonged to the likes of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. JR did not carry the weight of the team on his shoulders. He was the appetizer rather than the main course. Yet, some were skeptical that he could add to this powerful squad.

Roenick almost immediately paid dividends. In his second game, a 3-1 win in Vancouver, he notched two goals, including the game winner, and was named the number one star of the game. It was, incredibly, a prelude of things to come.

In five games in early November, Roenick notched five points. On Nov. 10, against the Phoenix Coyotes, Roenick scored his 500th goal in a 4-1 winning effort. By then, he was starting to win the hearts of fans and players alike. His career was surprisingly back on track.

"It's probably the biggest achievement I've seen," Thornton observed. "He's a warrior and he's playing great and he's scoring goals for us."

Wilson was again looking the genius. JR was fulfilling every commitment made and was contributing in many ways, on and off the ice.

Playing in the shadows of a formidable San Jose squad fit Roenick just fine. He picked his moments to make statements. He encouraged younger players. Most important, he was scoring huge tallies for San Jose. He was becoming the biggest bargain of the 2007-08 season. Playing for the love of the game and one more chance, he was making the most of each moment.

By the time 2008 dawned, he had five game winning goals. There was the occasional day off, but he was not only a fan favorite, but a player who was truly contributing. On Feb. 2, Coach Ron Wilson trotted out Roenick for his first shootout opportunity in the fifth round against the Chicago Blackhawks. He promptly buried his chance and the Sharks won the game.

He has not missed an shootout opportunity since.

In a crucial two-game set in late February against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, he again performed magic in the shootout to steal the game in Pittsburgh. He followed that up by tallying the game winning goal the following night in Columbus.

The team was on a roll. In the following 15 games, the Sharks would not lose once in regulation. They went an 18-0-2 run. Roenick notched four more game-winning goals and two big shootout winners. Finally, he was nominated for the NHL's Prestigious Masterson Trophy for Perseverance. Most conceded that if anyone deserved to win it, it was Roenick. He was tied for the league lead in game-winning goals with 10.

Yet, as the final games of the regular season wind down, this Cinderella story is far from a conclusion.

For Roenick, it will be all for naught if the Stanley Cup does not come to San Jose. Indeed, he is the same competitor who waxed Doug Wilson on the golf course. He is the same player who came back from the near dead. He is the same man who cheated father time and orchestrated one last, glorious stand.

It is one of those stories that just may defy logic. It is one of courage, determination, and making the most of a last chance.

And if the San Jose Sharks are to challenge for the Stanley Cup, watch for Jeremy Roenick to play a major role in the run. Should he drink from the cup this year and make his way eventually to the Hall of Fame, he has vowed to do so as a Shark.

Although he may be a bit ahead of himself, it is dangerous to bet against him.

He still has a few points to prove and this postseason will be the perfect venue for the next chapter of the story.

JR has basically adopted all the babies on our team, especially Torrey and Devin, but he lurves Vlasic and Pavelski too. And he said that he encourages them not to be boring interviews and to go out there and smile and have fun and entertain people. :D

  • Wine weekend!

    Just got back from a weekend in Wine Country. Ate lots of good food, tasted some wine and played Codenames and One Night Ultimate Werewolf at night.…

  • AO3 initialized!

    A month and a half later, I have finally started posting old fic to AO3! :P Best of Seven I will add more whenever I'm not lazy, heh heh.

  • Dude, where's my site?

    So apparently my fic site has been deleted. Don't really feel like hunting down free web hosting so I might start putting it on AO3. Is that pretty…

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  • Wine weekend!

    Just got back from a weekend in Wine Country. Ate lots of good food, tasted some wine and played Codenames and One Night Ultimate Werewolf at night.…

  • AO3 initialized!

    A month and a half later, I have finally started posting old fic to AO3! :P Best of Seven I will add more whenever I'm not lazy, heh heh.

  • Dude, where's my site?

    So apparently my fic site has been deleted. Don't really feel like hunting down free web hosting so I might start putting it on AO3. Is that pretty…