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Number Retirements: Who's Next?
These 3 Sharks are the most-worthy
2/27/23 - By Paul Krill

Having just watched Patrick Marleau's emotional number retirement ceremony on Saturday evening, it dawned on me and probably you, too: Who should be the next Sharks greats to have this honor? It was a no-brainer that Marleau would be the first to have his number, 12, raised to the rafters (Remember when Patrick wore #14 before switching to #12?).

But I came up with these three players as the next candidates to have their numbers hang alongside Marleau's at the Shark Tank: Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Owen Nolan. I don't think anyone will argue with these choices, although there are other names that might get some mention, maybe Brent Burns, Evgeni Nabokov, Logan Couture and a few others. Anyway, here's my arguments for and against Thornton, Pavelski, and Nolan.

Joe Thornton:

It's not going to shock anybody if Thornton becomes the second Shark to get his number - #19 in his case - retired. As a matter of fact, I bet most of us expect it, perhaps next year or so. Joe spent 15 seasons with the Sharks and clearly took the team to the next level.

He had 114 points his first full season with the Sharks in 2006-07, a franchise record, and won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in his first season with the Sharks, in 2005-06. Clearly, the Sharks' long string of playoff appearances this century does not happen without Thornton; his consistent excellence year after year made the Sharks an upper-echelon team.

With 1,539 points in 1,714 career games, placing him 12th highest of all time, the Hockey Hall of Fame awaits his induction, probably in short order. As far as arguments against his number being retired - aside from not winning the Cup, which of course the Sharks have never done, we have to note he played his first seven-plus seasons with the Bruins, so his catalog of work has lot of points scored for another team.

Joe Pavelski:

Drafted 205th overall in 2003, Pavelski defied the odds and had a long, overachieving career with the Sharks. Wearing #8, Pavelski spent 13 years in the South Bay, tallying 761 points. In 2013-14, he had 79 points, with 41 goals and 38 assists.

Always a fan favorite, Pavelski was the Sharks' captain when the Sharks made their lone appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2016. The only arguments against his number being retired are, unlike Thornton, Pavelski is most likely not a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame, and he left the Sharks for Dallas after the 2018-19 season.

As much as he is a well-loved Sharks alumni, his numbers probably are not quite strong enough to warrant a number retirement. (Remember - lots of a players win the Cup but only a select few get their numbers retired.)

Owen Nolan:

Nolan could do it all: Skate, score, and fight. The #1 selection in the 1990 entry draft by the Quebec Nordiques, Nolan was traded to the Sharks by the Colorado Avalanche in their first season in Denver, early in the 1995-96 season. Wearing #11 with the Sharks, Nolan tallied 451 points with San Jose in eight seasons.

Prior to the arrivals of Marleau and Thornton, he was the best player the Sharks ever had. Nolan racked up 84 points for the Sharks in the 1999-00 season, including 44 goals. Working against him, though, is he only played eight years with the Sharks, never made it past the second round of the playoffs when he was here (although that's a team accomplishment) and he played more seasons, total, with other teams than the Sharks.

So those are my arguments for and against these three players. Hopefully, more Sharks players, such as current Shark Tomas Hertl and current AHL player William Eklund, can join the argument in coming years.

Contact Paul at at paulkrill@letsgosharks.com



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