SAN JOSE - Mike Ricci has been in San Jose now for the better part of 20 years, playing for the Sharks from 1997-2004 and working in their front office since 2007.
Ironically enough, though, one of his most exciting moments in hockey came while competing against the Sharks. On Feb. 17, 1994, Ricci lit up San Jose for five goals while playing for Quebec in an 8-2 Nordiques victory.
In the first episode of the Sharks Insider Podcast, Ricci, currently the Sharks development coach, talked about what he remembers from his best game as a professional hockey player.
“I remember I should have had seven,” Ricci said. “I think I had a post, I had an empty net. It was crazy.”
The performance warranted a call home to his mother.
“[She said], ‘I [saw] you had two, but then I fell asleep.’ I go, ‘yeah, I got more than that.’ She got to five, and she goes, ‘five, huh? That’s good. How many assists?’
“I was like, ‘come on mom, I got five goals, what do you mean how many assists?’ That tells you about my mom, she was always expecting more.”
After Quebec relocated to Colorado and Ricci was a part of the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup team in 1996, a trade on Nov. 21, 1997 brought him to San Jose, where general manager Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter told the center that they wanted him to get back to playing a more offensive role.
That’s what happened, as Ricci’s point totals increased from his final few seasons in Colorado, while he kept playing that hard-nosed, aggressive style that immediately endeared him to fans at the Shark Tank.
Recalling the trade to San Jose, Ricci said: “I didn’t think I was going to like it, to be honest. I joked around that I was going to have to bleach my hair blonde, and stuff like that. … After a talk with Dean and Darryl, I realized these guys wanted me to be around here, and I’ve got to get my act together.”
Ricci touches on several more subjects on the podcast, including how his Italian father wanted him to play soccer rather than hockey; getting drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round and playing there before he was part of the blockbuster trade for Hall of Famer Eric Lindros; winning a Stanley Cup in Colorado, and eventually landing in San Jose, where he helped push the club to its first-ever appearance in the Western Conference Final in 2004.