Bay Area

Raffi Torres and San Jose Sharks ready to open training camp

The San Jose Sharks officially open training camp with the first full practice scheduled for Friday, September 18. Perhaps no one is more ready to hit the ice and compete than forward Raffi Torres, who missed the entire 2014-15 campaign recovering from a knee injury that initially kept him out of most of the 2013-14 season.

Torres had his most recent of three surgeries to repair ACL damage in his right knee in late February, and while he will be available when camp opens, he will work closely with new head coach Peter DeBoer to take a careful, measured approach to getting back into the lineup.

“He’s heading in the right direction, is probably the best way that I can term it,” DeBoer told Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group. “ We’ll see. I think we’re all cautiously optimistic.”

In the past two seasons, Torres has played in just five regular season games. Even though he had three goals and two assists in those five games, Torres’ gritty, high-energy play on both ends of the ice is his main attribute, and his speedy, steady play on the third line serves as a catalyst for the entire club.

Fan Fest

On Saturday, the club held it’s annual Fan Fest, greeting fans and addressing members of the media. The Fan Fest was capped off with a prospects game, where the Sharks prevailed 4-1 over the Anaheim Ducks.

Forward Joonas Donskoi scored two goals, and showed he will enter camp competing for a position on the NHL roster. He was joined on the scoring sheet by last year’s first round draft pick Nickolay Goldobin and Rourke Chartier.

Donskoi is a 23-year old from Finland, who signed in May as a free agent. Last year with Karpat of the Finnish league, Donskoi netted 19 goals with 30 assists in 58 games, and backed it up in leading the club with 22 total points in 19 games in winning the league championship.

On Sunday, Anaheim evened the scored by taking the second and final game of the series, 5-2 at Sharks Ice in San Jose. 

Nabby is back!

Longtime stalwart goaltender Evengi Nabokov is back with the Sharks, but he won’t be competing with Martin Jones for time between the pipes. Rather, he’ll be working with Jones and other goaltenders as the Sharks’ new goaltending development coach and advanced scout. He replaces Corey Schwab who was not retained after the end of last season.

Tickets will be available

The Sharks said on Monday the club expects a season ticket renewal rate of 85 percent following last season, where the Sharks failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in over a decade. In addition to not meeting performance expectations, the struggle to sell season tickets was probably hampered by increases in ticket prices – a $16 rise for seats along the ice and $2-3 bumps for most of the seats in the upper deck.

Going into last season, fresh off an epic first round playoff collapse against in-state and Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks experienced a renewal rate of approximately 89 percent. So, with what was once a fierce home arena advantage, the Sharks are now struggling to fill the stands.

The SAP Center has a capacity of 17,562 for hockey, and the Sharks drew an average of 17,419 for the 40 games played there last season. More often than not, the Sharks disappointed their fans, posting a very substandard home record of 19-17-5, including a loss to the Kings at Levi’s Stadium.

Photo Credit:  Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports

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Ray Hartjen

A Public Relations pro by day, by night @RayHartjen follows parallel - yet somehow still often conflicting - paths searching for hair metal guitar legend status, a career as a journeyman 4th line center in the NHL, and the treasured laminates to be a hanger-on in the circus that is Formula 1.
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