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Shark Great Signs Off
Nolan's retires; will he be first to get number retired, too?
2/7/12 - By Paul Krill -

Although Owen Nolan hadn't played with the Sharks in about nine years, the Sharks' organization showed a lot of class this week by bringing Nolan back to officially announce his retirement at the confines of HP Pavilion.

There's no denying it: Nolan was a foundational player for the Sharks, one of the most important and effective players to ever wear teal. And he has found a home in San Jose; when clearing out his locker right after the Sharks traded him to Toronto, he said San Jose was where he would be when he was done playing.

He gave us some incredible moments: the called shot and goal during the 1997 All Star Game, the center ice goal against heavily favored Saint Louis in the 2000 playoffs, and, OK, the fight against Grant Marshall that led to an 11-game suspension and had Sharks fans crying foul. Now, the question we have to ask is: Should Nolan be the first Shark to ever have his number retired? Should number 11 permanently adorn the rafters above the ice?

I've always thought a player ought to have a championship under his belt in order to get his number retired. But Nolan certainly did all he could to try to make that happen, even if it never did. (He came a few months' shy of getting a championship ring with Colorado, which traded him to the Sharks in late-1995.) Nolan does have an Olympic gold medal, though, which in some parts of the world is even more highly regarded than a Stanley Cup ring.

Anyone wondering about his impact elsewhere only needed to listen to his retirement press conference, in which a French-sounding reporter said Nolan was the last player from the now-defunct Quebec Nordiques to retire. So he is still remembered there after all these years. (Nolan last played for Quebec in 1995.)

Even if Nolan, like many, many other great players, never got to win a Stanley Cup, the magnitude of his years with the Sharks warrants his getting his number retired. He was the Sharks' best player for years and his combination of toughness and skill defined the term, "power forward." His 44 goals scored in the 1999-2000 season led to a peculiar honor at my house.

I was getting a dog that year and knew the dog would have to be named for something to do with the Sharks. In recognition of Nolan's tremendous season, my small, white-haired Maltese dog was thereby named "Owen." He will be 12 years old in June.

So thanks, Owen (the player, not the dog) for helping to put San Jose on the NHL map. We'll hope to see you around the Tank often.


Contact Paul at at pjkrillsharks@yahoo.com


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