Defenceman Sandis Ozolinsh is getting a training-camp tryout with the Sharks in an attempt to restart his NHL career in the city where it began.
The seven-time all-star ended last season on injured reserve with the New York Rangers after managing just three points in 21 games. After spending most of the summer debating whether to take another shot, he accepted a chance last weekend to skate with the Sharks, where he played his first 3½ NHL seasons.
“I have a lot of good memories here, and I’m excited to be here,” Ozolinsh told the club’s official website before the Sharks travelled to Los Angeles for their exhibition opener Tuesday night against the Kings. “This team has a chance at a Stanley Cup. I really hope I make this team.”
If the 35-year-old Latvian rediscovers his famed offensive game, he could fill a hole on the Sharks’ blue-line after Scott Hannan’s departure as a free agent to Colorado. Only five veteran defencemen have solid roster spots, including youngsters Matt Carle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
“There’s plenty of openings, and there’s a lot of competition on defence,” coach Ron Wilson said. “Our history, as long as Doug (Wilson) and I have been here, if you earn a spot on the roster, it’s there for you.”
Ozolinsh began his career in San Jose as a second-round draft pick, enjoying a 64-point campaign in 1993-94 – still a franchise record for defencemen. He was a key member of the San Jose clubs that engineered consecutive first-round playoff upsets.
He has 164 goals and 384 assists in his NHL career with San Jose, Colorado, Carolina, Florida and Anaheim. He joined the Rangers at the 2006 trade deadline, but struggled in New York.
Ozolinsh entered the NHL’s substance-abuse treatment program in December 2005. A few days after the 2006 season ended, he was arrested on a drunken driving charge that was later reduced to driving while impaired.
The Sharks showed off their redesigned uniforms for season-ticket holders at the Shark Tank before the annual Teal & White intrasquad scrimmage. Ozolinsh should like the new jerseys, which bear a stylistic resemblance to the franchise’s original uniforms.
“Our goal was to produce a uniform that paid homage to our birth as a franchise while incorporating a few elements that are more now,” Sharks owner Greg Jamison said.
The road jersey is predominantly teal, just as in the Sharks’ original uniforms. The club also reincorporated striped bands of colours around the sleeves and waist.
But the Sharks’ slightly modified new logo isn’t the only difference. The new jersey incorporates burnt-orange accenting and drops the black underarm panelling that formed a shark fin. The longtime secondary shark-fin logo on the jersey shoulders also has been scrapped in favour of a larger version of the main logo.
The new jerseys also have small uniform numbers on the front near the right shoulder – a boon to broadcasters and fans, but an unfamiliar look for an NHL club.