Ryane Clowe participated in his first official hockey practice since last year’s NHL playoffs at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center on Tuesday morning. But he didn’t skate with his usual squad, the Sharks.Instead, he worked out with the club’s ECHL affiliate, the San Francisco Bulls.
Now that the first two months of the NHL season are canceled, more and more players are signing contracts with satellite hockey leagues to stay in game shape as the lockout progresses. Several players are lacing up over seas in the Kontinental Hockey League, while others are joining the ECHL here in North America.
Clowe said he decided to practice with the Bulls so that he can get back in to the routine of playing competitive hockey.
“It was a really good skate today,” Clowe said. “I’m a little tired right now. I was happy it worked out and they let me come up.”
At this point, Clowe is only practicing with the club. But he said the idea of playing games with the team is intriguing.
“It’s probably an option and something I will think about,” he said. “It is a bit risky with the fact that I’ve only got a year left on my contract, so I’ve got to watch that. It will probably be a tough decision to make.”
Clowe inquired about the possibility of practicing with the club last week.
“These guys are close,” Clowe said. “I’ve watched a few games on TV, it looks like pretty good hockey.”
Coach Pat Curcio said Clowe’s presence at the rink should rub off on his young team that includes 13 rookies.
“It’s the little things that the NHL guys do so well,” he said. “It’s putting the pucks in the right place, it’s back-checking, picking up the right guy.”
Curcio said he’s open to having the Sharks wingman join his club for future games.
“If he can help us win some hockey games we’d love it,” he said.
For now, Clowe said he’s just happy to be back on the ice in a team setting.
“You’re just kind of waiting at home, sitting around a lot,” he said. “So you do get a little restless.”