Sharks notes: Sheppard returns; Burish ribs Pavelski

Sharks notes: Sheppard returns; Burish ribs Pavelski
January 24, 2013, 3:00 pm
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James Sheppard got emotional speaking about his first NHL hockey game in nearly three years Tuesday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN JOSE – When James Sheppard played for the Minnesota Wild in their game in Calgary on April 8, 2010, he had no reason to think it might be the last game of his pro career.

Although things hadn't gone as swimmingly as he had probably hoped when he was a first round pick by the Wild in 2006, Sheppard still suited up for 64 games in that 2009-10 season, with two goals and four assists. His career to that point was a case of how-not-to-develop-a-prospect as the WIld rushed him into the NHL at age 19, but the team still likely had high hopes for Sheppard’s career.

In September 2010, though, an ATV accident in Vail, CO, tore Sheppard’s left knee apart. He spent the 2010-11 season rehabbing with the Wild while suspended by the team, was traded to the Sharks in the summer of 2011, and spent his first year in San Jose still trying to get right. He played in three games for Worcester in late February/early March, but still wasn’t completely healthy.

It was nearly three years when Sheppard finally reappeared in an NHL game, on Tuesday night in Edmonton.

“It was great. It was a lot of fun and it was exciting. I was pretty nervous out there and more nervous than when I played a couple years ago because it was so much faster, and a different game,” Sheppard said on Wednesday.

He got a bit emotional talking about his long road back.

“I always knew it would come, but it was just more of when and how it would come,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to take this long. It’s done with now, so I don’t care about it now I’m just happy to be where I am.”

Sheppard played just over eight minutes against the Oilers, and was credited with one shot on goal and one hit.

“There were a couple times where I wanted to make a couple different plays. It’s not that I didn’t have the confidence, I just didn’t have the [cojones], really,” he said, bluntly. “I just wanted to make sure I was making the right plays and give the best chance for me to stay on the ice.”

Burish reflects on first career goal

Adam Burish wanted to make it clear – his first career goal, coming at HP Pavilion on Jan. 22, 2008 while a member of the Blackhawks, involved his good buddy and former teammate at the University of Wisconsin, Joe Pavelski.

“My first goal was a minus for Joe Pavelski. That felt pretty good,” Burish said with a smile, within earshot of his now teammate.

It came in a 3-2 Sharks win, though, so Pavelski had the last laugh. In fact, Pavelski had a shorthanded goal in the game, which ended a four-game losing streak for the Sharks.

Winnik surging

There’s no more surprising name among the early league leaders than that of former Sharks forward and current Anaheim Duck, Daniel Winnik. The 27-year-old has posted back-to-back two goal games, and is tied with Patrick Marleau and Marian Hossa for the league lead with four. The Ducks and Sharks are tied atop the Pacific Division standings at 2-0-0.

Winnik has been skating on the Ducks’ third line with Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu.

“I don’t think I expected to get out to this start," Winnik told ESPN.com. "I don’t think anyone did."

Winnik, if you’ll remember, was part of a Sharks trade with Colorado, acquired with TJ Galiardi in exchange for forward Jamie McGinn. In 21 games with the Sharks, Winnik had just three goals total. He went 43 straight games without a goal, from Dec. 17 – March 22 last season.

Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping that Winnik is a late-bloomer, along the lines of a Mike Knuble.

"I told him not to think, 'This isn’t supposed to happen,'" Boudreau said. "I said, 'Keep pushing the envelope.'"

The Sharks host Winnik and the Ducks on Jan. 29, and visit the Honda Center in their next road game on Feb. 4.

Kennedy clears

Worcester Sharks forward Tim Kennedy has cleared waivers and will remain with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. Kennedy signed a one-year, two-way contract with San Jose on Thursday.

It’s been a productive season for the forward in the AHL, with 30 points (12g, 18a) in 31 games. Kennedy would likely have been in Sharks training camp had he not gotten hurt just before the end of the lockout.

Worcester has lost its last five games (0-4-1), scoring just six goals over that span and is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division (19-17-1-3, 42 points).

Ferriero traded

Former Sharks forward Benn Ferriero is on the move, as the Pittsburgh Penguins traded him to the New York Rangers for forward Chad Kolarik.

Ferriero signed in the offseason with Pittsburgh after he was not tendered an offer from San Jose. In 34 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this season, Ferriero had 18 points (4g, 14a).

He’ll have at least one friend on his new team, the AHL’s Connecticut Whale, as the Sharks recently traded tough guy Brandon Mashinter there.