In the visitors’ dressing room at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, the two players who have defined the identity of the San Jose Sharks for more than a decade sit two stalls apart, separated only by Lukas Radil, a 28-year-old NHL freshman from the Czech Republic who is, at the moment, sporting a shiner under both eyes.
It’s only fitting that Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski are so closely tethered in the Sharks’ inner sanctum. No two players in franchise history have defined Los Tiburones the way they have. One was a prodigy at 14, dominating in a Jr. B league against players five years older, a shaggy-haired phenom who was pegged for superstardom long before he was drafted first overall, and has not disappointed. The Hall of Fame awaits. The other had to wait an extra year and almost 500 name...
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His American bloodlines gave him the talent, the Canadian outdoors gave him the passion, and his internal motor gave him the drive. Along the way, all he’s done is obliterate the records of previous phenoms and turn the heads of every salivating big-league bird dog. It appears the hockey gods have some sympathy for the Devils after all.