|Damphousse has played a huge role in San Jose's march to the Pacific Division crown and the No. 3 seed in the postseason. He has been nominated for the Masterton Trophy for his comeback performance, scoring 20 goals and 38 assists. |
Plenty of bite in this shark
By Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com | Apr. 26, 2002
Vincent Damphousse is nothing if not adaptable.
The San Jose Sharks center has survived 16 NHL seasons -- spread among four teams -- by adapting to new towns, new linemates and new responsibilities. This season he had to adapt to playing again after suffering a serious injury.
Until last year, Damphousse was an iron man, playing a huge role almost every night.
Before the injury, Damphousse had missed just 19 of a possible 1,131 games in his first 15 seasons. Subtract eight games early in his career to account for healthy scratches and a suspension, and Damphousse had missed only 11 because of injury.
That all changed on Jan. 15, 2001 when he severely dislocated his left shoulder in a game against Detroit.
That injury -- just before the 2001 All-Star Game -- cost Damphousse 35 games and derailed a great season.
For the first 43 games of the 2001 season, Damphousse was San Jose's top center, averaging better than a point per game. He had earned an invitation to the All-Star Game, his first since the 1992 edition when he represented Edmonton.
Missing the All-Star Game was a bitter disappointment, but paled in comparison to missing the stretch run for the Sharks. As he rehabilitated the shoulder, Damphousse had to face the fact that he might not be the same player upon his return.
(3) Sharks vs. (6) Coyotes |
Game 5: SJ 4, PHX 1
Game 4: SJ 2, PHX 1
Game 3: SJ 4, PHX 1
Game 2: PHX 3, SJ 1
Game 1: SJ 2, PHX 1
Sharks official web site
"It's very gratifying to come back," said Damphousse, who did play in the 2002 All-Star Game. "My shoulder has responded very well and I feel like I am all the way back. Last year, it was really disappointing. I found out I made the All-Star Game the same day I found out how badly my shoulder was injured. That was hard to take."
Damphousse is indeed all the way back. He has played in all of San Jose's games this year, playing a huge role in San Jose's march to the Pacific Division crown and the No. 3 seed in the postseason. He has been nominated for the Masterton Trophy for his comeback performance, scoring 20 goals and 38 assists.
Now, he will be one of the big guns as the Sharks again chase the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
"He's one of the key guys on our team," said Owen Nolan, the Sharks' captain. "He's a real emotional leader for us and he leads by example on the ice. That has been so important for our team as it has improved."
Damphousse, who has more than 1,200 games of regular-season experience to his credit, is a proven playoff performer. He has 117 games of playoff experience entering 2002 competition, netting 31 goals and 54 assists.
In the spring, when the ice shrinks as the playoff teams go into defensive shells, Damphousse's skills set becomes all the more valuable. He has a proven scoring touch, but his true value lays in his passing skills. He sees the ice as well as any center in the game, and often exhibits a deft passing touch that allows pucks to get to areas of the ice that seemed closed just before the pass flies from his stick.
|Damphousse has 117 games of playoff experience entering 2002 competition, netting 31 goals and 54 assists. |
That is a boon for the team's snipers, specifically Nolan and Teemu Selanne. Damphousse should buy both players scoring opportunities, especially on the power play -- where games are often won and lost in the postseason.
"One of his biggest qualities is his vision on the ice, he's just always able to find the right guy and get the right pass to him to allow him to make a play," says Nolan. "It's almost an uncanny ability that he has."
It's an ability that has made him a desired commodity throughout his career.
Damphousse played the first five years of his career with Toronto, before being moved in 1991 to Edmonton. After one season with the Oilers, Damphousse was shipped to Montreal for Shayne Corson in 1992.
After nearly seven great seasons with the Canadiens, Damphousse landed in San Jose at the 1999 trade deadline. A Montreal native, Damphousse loved his time with the Canadiens, but understood at an early age that trades would be a part of his professional life.
With that said, Damphousse arrived in California and immediately applied his considerable talents to helping the emerging Sharks take the next step.
|Damphousse arrived in California and immediately applied his considerable talents to helping the emerging Sharks take the next step. |
This is my fourth time that I have been traded and every time I moved it gave a jolt to my career," said Damphousse. "I don't really know why, but it has worked out that way and I think that is pretty good.
In San Jose, I was put in a good situation and inherited a key role and that has allowed me to take off again. I think, as far as moving around, I'm about the average now. Guys that are in the league 10 years have been with two or three teams. Now, it's very difficult to stay with the same time for very long.
"But, it's very interesting the way my career went down and has unfolded."